Memory decline may be earliest sign of dementia

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By MARILYNN MARCHIONE, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Memory problems that are often dismissed as a normal part of aging may not be so harmless after all.

Several research teams are reporting that noticing you have a decline in memory beyond the occasional misplaced car keys or forgotten name could be the very earliest sign of Alzheimer's.

One study found that complaining of a memory decline preceded wider mental impairment by about six years. Another tied those changes to evidence of dementia on brain scans.

The research involves memory lapses that are more pronounced than a mere "senior moment." These are bigger problems, such as getting lost while driving home.

The studies were discussed Wednesday at the Alzheimer's Association conference in Boston.

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