Memory loss doesn’t mean a person will develop dementia

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While memory loss is an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, its presence doesn’t necessarily indicate Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has found a clinically useful way to predict who won’t develop Alzheimer’s disease, based on patients’ awareness of their memory problems. People who were unaware of their memory loss, a condition called anosognosia, were more likely to progress to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the study, published today in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Those who were aware of memory problems were unlikely to develop dementia.

“If patients complain of memory problems, but their partner or caregiver isn’t overly concerned, it’s likely that the memory loss is due to other factors, possibly depression or anxiety,” says lead author Dr. Philip Gerretsen, Clinician Scientist in CAMH’s Geriatric Division and Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute. “They can be reassured that they are unlikely to develop dementia, and the other causes of memory loss should be addressed.”

So, to break it down, if you are aware that you are having memory problems, you are probably going to be OK. But keep seeing your doctor if you have any concerns.

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