Men have more "senior moments" of memory loss than women

Tue Sep 7, 2010 7:39am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Lost the car keys? Forgot someone's name? Many elderly people suffer slight cognitive problems but men are more likely than women to suffer momentary memory lapse or senior moments, according to a U.S. study.

Researchers from the Mayo Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Rochester, Minnesota, found 19 percent of men aged 70 to 89 years had so-called mild cognitive impairment, compared to only 14 percent of women.

People with mild cognitive impairment have problems with memory but can carry out everyday activities and generally realize that they're forgetful. The National Institutes of Health says "mild cognitive impairment" falls in between normal forgetfulness and dementia.

Researcher Dr. Ronald Petersn said the findings were surprising because Alzheimer's disease, which is preceded by this type of mental decline, affects more women than men.

Even after accounting for differences in education, age, and diseases like diabetes and hypertension, men had about 50 percent higher odds than women of having mild cognitive impairment.

"The gender differences were somewhat surprising to us because most people believe that women are at higher risk than men," Petersen told Reuters Health.

He said not everyone with mild cognitive impairment develops dementia but some people do which makes it a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

An estimated 15 percent of people with mild cognitive impairment end up with full-blown dementia each year. In the general population, that number is between one and two percent.

The study, published in the journal Neurology (, involved more than 2,000 randomly sampled elderly people from Olmsted County, Minnesota.   Continued...

<p>A man crosses a street in Tokyo August 3, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer</p>