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Patient Educ Couns. 1998 May;34(1):25-32.

Subjective forgetfulness in a normal Dutch population: possibilities for health education and other interventions.

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Maastricht Brain and Behavior Institute, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Many, especially elderly people, are worried about their diminishing memory. In order to be able to improve health education activities about forgetfulness and aging processes, nearly 2000 healthy Dutch people, aged 25-85 years, participated in a postal survey into the determinants of subjective forgetfulness. As expected, there was a systematic increase in the prevalence of forgetfulness with age. The relatively high prevalence of forgetfulness in the young (29%) and middle-aged groups (34%) was unexpected. Besides age, the occurrence of dementia in a close relative appeared to be a strong predictor of people's subjective forgetfulness. Furthermore, people who felt more in control of their memory functioning reported less forgetfulness. Younger people ascribed their forgetfulness mostly to external causes (stress, concentration) and older people to internal causes (age, retardation). Eleven percent of all forgetful people were interested in an intervention for their memory complaints. In this group, education (37%), memory training (29%), and medication (12%) were the preferred interventions. No differences were found between older and younger respondents.

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