In 2011, 12.7% of Americans ages 60 and older reported confusion or memory loss happening more often or getting worse over the previous 12 months, according to a CDC report.
The percentage reporting confusion or memory loss was significantly higher among the following: people ages 85 and older (15.6%) compared with those ages 60 to 64 (12%) and 65 to 74 (11.9%); Hispanics or Latinos (16.9%) compared with whites (12.1%); people with less than a high school education (16.2%) compared with those with more education; people who reported they were disabled (20.2%) compared with those who were not disabled (7.5%); and people who were unable to work (28.3%) compared with those who were employed (7.8%), unemployed (16.4%), homemakers (11.8%), students (3.9%) and retirees (12.3%).
That the percentage at ages 60 to 64 is similar to the proportion at age 65 to 74 suggests “a need for future studies to examine the relationship of age and functional difficulties caused by increased confusion or memory loss,” the authors wrote in the May 10 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “For example, younger persons might face challenges obtaining diagnostic testing because healthcare professionals might not suspect symptoms, or access to employer-sponsored benefits could be placed in jeopardy if employed persons lose their jobs or are unable to work.”
Of people reporting functional difficulties, 35.2% reported that confusion or memory loss interfered with their work, social activities or ability to do household chores. Despite such challenges, only 32.6% of those individuals reported discussing their symptoms with a healthcare provider.
Conversations with healthcare providers about symptoms and possible causes of cognitive decline enable individuals and their family members to better anticipate needs and plan for the future, the authors wrote. When causes of cognitive decline are diagnosed early and accurately, opportunities exist to treat potentially reversible causes. If the causes are not reversible, such conversations may provide time to initiate financial planning, develop advance directives enroll in clinical trials and anticipate care needs.
Read the report: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6218a1.htm?s_cid=mm6218a1_w.