New Risk Scale Identifies Normal Aging vs. Dementia

Many seniors can easily admit to having a “senior moment” from time to time, but the threat of a looming dementia diagnosis can be scary and is a reality for many families. The Mayo Clinic has developed a scale that will help identify those seniors who are at risk for developing dementia, hopefully encouraging high risk seniors to seek early intervention.New Risk Scale Identifies Normal Aging vs. Dementia

Learn more about how the scale tells the difference between normal aging vs. dementia.

Memory Loss and Dementia Among Seniors

While many seniors and loved ones make jokes about memory loss as we age, the fact of the matter is that many seniors are facing a devastating diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association recently released the latest Alzheimer’s statistics which revealed more about the looming Alzheimer’s epidemic. Some of the startling statistics listed in the report include that:

  1. Nearly 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.
  2. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in America.
  3. 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
  4. Only 25% of people with Alzheimer’s have actually been diagnosed.
  5. 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and until a cure is found, over 16 million Americans will likely have the disease by 2050.

Given these numbers, it is not surprising that so many seniors are left wondering if they are having “senior moment” or if their memory loss is a sign of something more serious.

Scale Helps Identify High Risk Seniors for Dementia Earlier

A new risk scale developed by the Mayo Clinic seeks to help seniors answer that question while also identifying those who are at a high risk for developing dementia. The study observed 1,449 seniors from Minnesota who did not report experiencing any memory or thinking problems over the course of 5 years. During the study, 401 of the participants developed mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Researchers used their observations to develop a risk scale that will let people know how likely they are to develop dementia and hope that those at risk will seek early intervention. The scoring system took into account various factors, including:

  • Highest level of education
  • Regular medications
  • History of stroke
  • History of smoking
  • History of diabetes
  • History of depression
  • History of anxiety
  • Slow gait
  • The presence of the APOE gene

Ronald Peterson, an author of the study, said, “This risk scale provides an inexpensive and easy way for doctors to identify people who should be referred to more advanced testing for memory issues or may be better candidates for clinical trials.”

He also stated:

“Early detection of individuals at high risk of developing memory and thinking problems that we call mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is crucial because people with MCI are at a greater risk of developing dementia. This allows for a wider window of opportunity to initiate preventative measures.”

Do you think this scale will help people seek earlier intervention methods when necessary? Would you want to know how at risk you are for dementia? 

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • las730

    Absolutely no

  • Nan

    I would rather know for the sake of my husband and children.

  • Warren Johnson

    It’s nice that there is a scale, but why not give it to us instead of just telling us there is one so we can evaluate how we are doing?

    • Billie Harman

      I totally agree. Especially as those in early-stage are being finally identified, we need to be included in our own evaluation and treatment choices

    • Pati

      Click on the blue-highlighted sentence regarding the scale, as that is the link.

      • Warren Johnson

        I did that and it took me to a synopsis of the study, but not the scale or technique to use. To get the full report would cost me $39.00, so I thought: “No thanks!” I don’t understand the need for secrecy on this, other than greed.

  • Peggy Zubyk

    My Mom started walking very poorly as she aged. We thought it was her age, but she was later diagnosed with vascular dementia. Unfortunately the signs are often only seen in retrospect. I walk with difficulty due to knee/hip problems so know that you cannot always predict from a slow gait. It is worth considering though.

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    I know many people would want to know in advance, but the risk of knowing in advance of serious issues could increase the suicide rate. There has to be a “safety network” for the victims and their families.

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