Why Do So Many Dementia Cases in Baby Boomers Go Undiagnosed?

Approximately one out of every eight baby boomers has experienced increasing issues with his or her memory over the past year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a first-of-its-kind study, the CDC examined the self-reported survey data of 59,000 American adults, aged 60 and older, to discover how many of them were struggling with cognitive problems.

Some examples of the main questions asked by researchers: “During the past 12 months, have you experienced confusion or memory loss that is happening more often, or is getting worse?” and “Does your confusion or memory loss interfere with your ability to work, volunteer or engage in social activities?”

The 33-question survey yielded some interesting statistics:

  • Overall, nearly 13 percent of people 60-years-old and older felt that their memory had been on the fritz for at least a year.
  • Of those with memory woes, more than 35 percent reported having difficulty performing tasks, including daily household chores, work assignments, and volunteer activities. Surprisingly, study authors found that younger people (those 60-to 64-years-old) who struggled with memory loss were significantly more likely to report having trouble with daily tasks than those aged 65 and over who admitted to having similar issues.
  • Thirty-three percent of people who had trouble with regular tasks also admitted that their cognitive impairment was so severe that it prevented them from being able to work.
  • Individuals living in certain states were more likely to admit they were having cognitive issues. For example, 20 percent of Arkansas natives reported their struggle with memory problems, while only six percent of Tennessee dwellers copped to their decreased cognition.
  • Even those people who were dealing with memory issues that disrupted their daily life appeared reluctant to communicate their concerns with a health care provider. Only 33 percent of those reporting significant issues with their cognition said that they had spoken with their doctor about the problem.

Study authors are quick to mention that the self-reported nature of this study lends itself to certain biases, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt.

They do note, however, that the results yield interesting preliminary insight into why so many cases of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia–an estimated 66 percent–go undiagnosed. The fear and stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia has become so profound that it may prevent people from seeking a diagnosis.

This is an especially important problem to solve, because dementia can be caused by a variety of different (and sometimes reversible) issues. Among the elderly especially, something as simple as a urinary tract infection can cause symptoms of delirium and dementia. (Discover some of the common signs of dementia.)

If you, or your loved one is experiencing an increase in memory or cognitive issues, it’s a good idea to consult a medical professional who can help you discover the source of the problem, and identify possible solutions.

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Baby Boomers With Memory Troubles May Not Seek Medical Help originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor


Wisteria K.
Past Member 5 years ago

I am surprised that so many young seniors today have these memory problems.
What is going on?

Connie O.
Connie O5 years ago

I do forget names a lot....but I also did that 25 years ago...so I don't think my memory is getting any worse...just not any better!

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 years ago


Deborah W.
Deborah W5 years ago

Young as well as old experience bouts of absentmindness, retention deficit, etc. Some are naturally attributed to old age, others to being "spread too thin" to cover it all, etc. Think we make too much out of every single thing ... good for some, bad for others, as is everything these days. Can be used as background history when applying for healthcare coverage, ammunition for takeover of assets by greedy family members, etc. I'd be careful, yet watchful.

Harbor Hag
Harbor Hag6 years ago

Getting old is an uphill battle. ...and then it's all downhill from there.

Lin M
Lin M6 years ago

Thank you. My mom is in her own little happy world now. Some times it's real hard to keep up with her conversations.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra6 years ago

Thank you AgingCare, for Sharing this!

Natalie S.
Natalie S6 years ago

I think we would all be reluctant to admit to certain 'deterioration' in mental abilities, so I am not surprised at the result. In the case of Alzheimer's there's all the more reason for an early diagnosis in view of the fact that if the disease advances, there's little chance of medication being effective. Thanks for sharing.

Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay Kemp6 years ago

Thanks for this info - worrying.

Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller6 years ago

Interesting info. I am a baby boomer and do have some bad boots of forgetfulness on occasion ...at the age of 54.