Almost one in eight people over 60 years old have problems with memory and increased confusion, a new report in this week's issue of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says.
The CDC analyzed data taken from a 2011 survey in which older adults from 21 states were asked whether they had experienced confusion or memory loss within the past 12 months, and if they felt like it was getting worse or happening more often. Those who responded affirmatively to this question were then asked if they felt like the memory and confusion problems affected their "ability to work, volunteer, engage in social activities," or caused them to "give up household activities or chores" that they "used to do," the report says. They were then asked other questions to determine how much help they were getting from friends, family, or health-care providers.
The data showed that 12.7 percent of the survey's participants aged 60 and older reported increased confusion or memory loss, and of those participants, 35.2 percent reported functional difficulties. Of the people reporting functional difficulties, 81 percent said they needed help, but only 32.6 percent went to a health-care provider for it - 46.5 percent received help from a friend or family member. It's the number of people not getting help from health-care providers that the researchers are most concerned for.
"Early and accurate diagnosis provides opportunities for individuals and families to initiate financial planning, develop advance directives, enroll in clinical trials and anticipate care needs," Angela J. Deokar, CDC public health advisor and report co-author, said in the report. "Some causes for cognitive decline are reversible, but they can be serious and should be treated by a health-care provider as soon as possible."
Some of these causes include: depression, infections, medication side effects, or nutritional deficiencies, according to the report.
"Some, but not all, persons with mild cognitive impairment develop Alzheimer's disease; others can recover from mild cognitive impairment if certain causes are detected and treated," the report says.