The health factors that have been known to increase the risk of developing brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, has now been linked to the increased likelihood of memory complaints across all adult age groups, including young adults between the ages of 18-39. This is the first study to link these risk factors to early memory complaints.
Focusing on factors that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, such as depression, diabetes, lower education levels, obesity and smoking, researchers polled 18,552 individuals, aged 18 to 99. They asked about memory and a variety of lifestyle and health factors.
The results showed that many of these risk factors increased the chances of self-perceived memory complaints. However, what was most important was that it was found across all age groups. Of the group that was polled, 20% had memory complaints: 14% of young adults, 22% of middle-aged adults, ages 40-59, and 26% of older adults, ages 60-99.
The strongest risk factor that was associated with memory complaints, across all age groups, was depression. However, depression, low levels of education, physical inactivity and high blood pressure were all risk factors. The study’s senior author, Dr. Gary Small, UCLA’s Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging and director of the UCLA Longevity Center, was surprised at how many young adults have memory complaints.
“We’re planning to use these results as a basis for future studies to better understand how reducing these risk factors may possibly lower the frequency of memory complaints,” said author Fernando Torres-Gil, a professor at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and associate director of UCLA’s Longevity Center.