Signs of dementia seen 18 years before diagnosis

From our Care and cure magazine - Autumn 2015, find out about very early signs of dementia.

A study of over 2,000 people has shown a test of memory and thinking can reveal differences in people who go on to develop Alzheimer's disease up to 18 years before diagnosis.

Based on tests completed 13 to 18 years before the study ended, a lower score in a cognitive test was associated with an 85 per cent greater risk of future dementia.

This suggests that the development of Alzheimer's disease may begin many years earlier than expected before symptoms are recognised.

'Dementia often causes changes in the brain years before the symptoms become apparent. This study shows that there may be subtle indications of Alzheimer's disease in thinking and memory as many as 18 years before a formal diagnosis could take place,' says Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer's Society.

'This could mean there is a long window of opportunity for treatment in which we could one day halt or slow dementia.

'Although these tests cannot accurately predict who will develop dementia, they could potentially be used to identify people at higher risk.'

If you are worried that you may be at risk of dementia, read our page on early signs to find out more.

Further reading