The British Journal of Psychiatry
A prevalence study of age-associated memory impairment.
A Barker, R Jones, C Jennison


BACKGROUND Age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) describes a non-disease ageing-related decline in memory. Pharmacological treatment trials have been reported and DSM-IV has introduced a term for the disorder. No prevalence study with the original criteria has previously been published.

METHOD An age-stratified sample was taken of 50-95-year-olds registered with a local health centre. Diagnosis of AAMI was made by questionnaire, cognitive testing, and medical and psychiatric assessment.

RESULTS Prevalence rates for the total population and for the over-50s were estimated to be 5.8% and 18.5%, respectively. These rates are dramatically affected by minor alterations to individual criteria.

CONCLUSIONS It appears AAMI is less common than previous estimates suggested, although the diagnostic criteria do not satisfactorily define people with an age-related decline in memory. Complaint of memory decline is more strongly correlated with measures of affect and personality than with measures of current memory test performance or estimates of memory decline.