New Risk Scale Identifies Normal Aging vs. Dementia

Many of us can admit to having a “senior moment” from time to time, but the threat of a looming dementia diagnosis can be a reality for many families.New Risk Scale Identifies Normal Aging vs. Dementia

The Mayo Clinic has recently 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.

Memory Loss and Normal Aging vs. Dementia Among Seniors

While many families and seniors joke about memory loss as we age, the fact of the matter is that some seniors will eventually face a devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in their lifetime.

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

  1. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  2. Nearly 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.
  3. Only 25% of people with Alzheimer’s have actually been diagnosed.
  4. 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.
  5. 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.

Given this report, it is not surprising that so many seniors are left wondering if they are experiencing memory loss or if a lapse is a sign of something more serious.

Scale Helps Identify High Risk Seniors for Dementia Earlier

A new scale developed by the Mayo Clinic seeks to help seniors answer that question while also identifying those who are most at risk for developing dementia.

The Mayo Clinic research observed 1,449 seniors from Minnesota who did not report experiencing any cognitive problems over the course of 5 years. During the study, 401 of those participants developed mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Researchers then used their observations to develop a risk scale that will let people know how likely they are to develop dementia, so that those most at risk will seek early intervention.

The scoring system took into account various factors, including:

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

Ronald Peterson, an author of the study, stated, “This risk scale provides an inexpensive 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 continued:

“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 normal aging vs. dementia scale will help people seek earlier intervention when necessary? Share if you would want to know how at risk you are for dementia in the comments below.

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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.


    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.

    • Sheila Worth

      Please tell me what is the matter with ending ones own life rather than living with Alzheimer’s. I guess it would cut down on the continuing profits for those caring for older patients. I would rather know and have the option of ending my life on a good note.

  • disqus_wobRFSYHHR

    It is so nice to hear that Mayo Clinic study about alzhiemer !
    And know that Alzheimer is the 6 th cause of death!
    However, when I requested to help me for my mom! They sent letter back to me that we usually care about the serious illness ! So it means Alzheimer is not serious illness!

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