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Contempo 1998
June 3, 1998

Memory Loss—When Is It Alzheimer Disease?

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Dr Cullum) and Neurology (Drs Cullum and Rosenberg) and the Alzheimer's Disease Center (Drs Cullum and Rosenberg), University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.


Edited by Ronna Henry Siegel, MD, JAMA Fishbein Fellow.

JAMA. 1998;279(21):1689-1690. doi:10.1001/jama.279.21.1689

MEMORY PROBLEMS are one of the most common complaints of elderly persons.1 Because the group of individuals older than 85 years is now the fastest growing segment of our society, it is critical for physicians to enhance their familiarity with the changes in memory associated with normal aging and to be able to identify the early signs of abnormal mental decline. Great progress has been made in the past few years in the ability to differentiate normal aging-related memory changes from the impairments associated with dementia, including Alzheimer disease (AD). Reassuring the patient with memory complaints who does not show evidence of a dementing disease on formal examination is important and gratifying. The early identification of a dementing disease is equally important to provide optimal care and plan for the future.