Everyday Memory Failures in Older Adults with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment
Identifying people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), who are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, is important for improving early disease management and care. Although self- or informant-reported memory problems constitute one of the diagnostic criteria of aMCI, there is currently little empirical knowledge about the frequency and nature of everyday memory failures in aMCI compared to age-matched healthy controls. Consequently, clinicians rely on their personal judgements when assessing the seriousness of reported memory failures. To address this gap in our knowledge, 32 aMCI participants and 38 healthy controls recorded their everyday memory failures as and when they occurred during a 7-day period, in a portable diary-booklet, by filling in a short questionnaire on a diary page. Descriptions of memory failures were coded into several subcategories of retrospective memory, prospective memory, and absent-minded failures. Results showed that a total number of recorded failures was significantly higher in participants with aMCI than controls. This group difference was mainly due to aMCI participants recording a higher number of retrospective memory failures, while groups did not differ in the number of prospective memory and absent-minded failures. Additionally, while certain types of failures (i.e., forgetting appointments and well-learned procedures) were recorded by a proportion of aMCI patients, they were never reported in a control group. Overall compliance rates were high and did not differ across the groups, suggesting that a structured diary method is feasible to use with aMCI patients, and can provide useful information about everyday memory functioning in this population.