Friday, May 10, 2013

CDC Reports Data on Confusion, Memory Loss, Functional Difficulties in Older Americans

More than 10 percent of older Americans say they have experienced increased confusion or memory loss, and more than one-third say they've had functional difficulties, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the May 10 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. To estimate the prevalence of self-reported increased confusion or memory loss and associated functional difficulties among adults aged 60 or older, the CDC analyzed data from 21 states that administered an optional module in the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. The CDC said these results provide baseline information about the number of noninstitutionalized older adults who might require services and support now or in the future. 

Among those reporting increased confusion or memory loss and functional difficulties, 81 percent indicated the need for assistance, and only 46.5 percent reported getting that help from a family member or friend. The need for care could precede or follow a diagnosis of dementia and escalates over time, said the CDC. Understanding who already requires care and who is at risk of requiring it in the future can help with anticipating needs and costs associated with meeting those needs. 

But once service needs of this population are identified, will there be an adequate number of physicians and other professionals to help them? An expert panel has called the dearth of clinicians to treat the elderly an "emerging crisis." Read more in Psychiatric News here. To read about one program to address aging-related functioning, see the American Journal of Psychiatry here.

(Image: Aletia/


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