Subjective Cognitive Decline is a Clear Public Health Issue

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), self-reported cognitive decline is on the rise as the U.S. population ages. Although subjective cognitive decline (SCD) does not mean an individual has Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementias, it can be an indicating factor. As the need for health and social services grows with the senior population, the CDC is urging public health officials to proactively mitigate the potential boom in SCD.

The Spectrum of Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline can range from mild impairment with age to dementia, which interferes with activities of daily living. Minor decline — like forgetting a name — can be normal with age. But with severe decline, individuals may not be able to perform routine tasks or even care for themselves. Educating older adults at risk for cognitive impairment can help them get ahead of modifiable risk factors and encourage earlier assessment and intervention.

Subjective Cognitive Decline Statistics

With self-confusion being reported more often, the CDC recently collected data from community-dwelling adults 45 years or older across 49 states and Puerto Rico through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

Some of their findings included:

  • Approximately 1 in 9 adults experiences subjective cognitive decline
  • 24.7% of those with SCD at ages 45–65 reported living alone, with 36.2% of those 65 or older 
  • Less than half of adults with SCD had discussed memory loss or confusion with a health care professional
  • More than 1 in 4 adults with SCD reported having coronary heart disease or stroke
  • 66.2% of adults with SCD reported having two or more chronic diseases

Frequent mental distress, defined as chronic mental stress of having 14 mentally unhealthy days in a 30-day period, was also reported in approximately one-third of surveyed adults with SCD, with 37.6% of women reporting distress compared to 29.4% of men.

Living with Subjective Cognitive Decline

Functional difficulties are also a part of subjective cognitive decline. Things like performing chores, taking medications, maintaining socialization, and giving up household activities are also byproducts of self-reported impairment. Public health education and early intervention can improve the health and wellbeing of people experiencing SCD. That should include raising awareness about dementia and providing regular cognitive assessments as part of routine doctor’s office visits.

BrainCheck Helps Providers Assess Cognitive Decline Objectively

BrainCheck’s fast, accurate cognitive assessment tools can help primary care physicians assess their patients’ cognitive health and offer insight that can slow progression of cognitive impairment. Learn more about how this advanced, intuitive platform can help providers get assessment data faster and empower patients and caregivers to get ahead of cognitive decline.

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