— Reports of memory impairment were closely tied to a decline later in the ability to recall events in a study of 2,230 people, average age 80, by researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany.
— Petersen said that a study he and others soon will report shows that complaints about memory predicted who would later develop mild cognitive impairment — what used to be called "pre-Alzheimer's" — in a random sample of 1,500 people in the community near the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
"If you notice a change in your pattern of either yourself or a loved one, seek a health care professional's evaluation," said Heather Snyder, the Alzheimer's Association's director of medical and scientific operations. "It could be a lack of sleep or nutritional, but it may be something more than that."
But don't worry about small, common memory slips, said Dr. Reisa Sperling, director of the Alzheimer's center at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
"Every time you forget someone's name, you don't need to go running to the doctor," she said.
The Alzheimer's Association lists 10 warning signs of the disease:
— Memory changes that disrupt daily life.
— Challenges in planning or solving problems.
— Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
— Confusion with time or place.
— Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
— New problems with words in speaking or writing.
— Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
— Decreased or poor judgment.
— Withdrawal from work or social activities.
— Changes in mood and personality.
Alzheimer's info: http://www.alzheimers.gov
Alzheimer's Association: http://www.alz.org
Warning signs: http://www.alz.org/10signs
AP medical writer Lindsey Tanner contributed reporting from Chicago.
Follow Marilynn Marchione on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP