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Aging Ment Health. 2011 Jan;15(1):85-96. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2010.501062.

Subjective memory complaints in the elderly: Prevalence and influence of temporal orientation, depression and quality of life in a population-based study in the city of Madrid.

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Centre for the Prevention of Cognitive Impairment, Public Health Institute, Madrid City Council, Spain.



It is still a matter of debate whether variables such as education, sex, age, personality and others underlie subjective memory complaints (SMC). Our objectives are to study: the prevalence of memory complaints in the city of Madrid, the distribution of complaints in the population according to socio-demographic variables and the related variables like cognitive performance, quality of life, perceived health status and functional ability. To our knowledge, this is the first study about the prevalence of SMC in Spain.


We adopted a transversal descriptive epidemiological study. The survey sample size is 1637 persons above 64 years. SMC were obtained through questions regarding memory complaints.


524 (32.4%) subjects reported SMC. The prevalence of SMC depends on age, education, sex, mood and cognitive performance. SMC rises from 24% in the 65-69 age groups to 57% in the 90 and above group. The percentage of subjects with SMC was 52.8% among persons diagnosed with depression or anxiety, and 28.7% among subjects without. Performance on cognitive tests such as orientation showed that subjects without orientation failures (81%) have a 22.2% SMC frequency and subjects who fail all the orientation items (4%) have a 93% frequency. A logistic regression analysis showed that those variables indicating a better prediction of group membership (SMC vs. controls) were orientation in time, quality of life and depression-anxiety.


Complaints reflect various processes and are the result of various elements; however, our study highlights the importance of factors such as cognitive performance, depression-anxiety and quality of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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