What The expectation of significant levels of memory

What Will “I” Do in 10 Years?:
Effect of End-of-Life Planning on Dementia Worry

The population of older
adults is rapidly increasing. According to the United States 2017 Census Bureau
data, more than 47.8 million people living in the United States were 65 years
of age and older as of July 1, 2015 , with the number expected to double to 98.2
million by 2060 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017). Among these older adults, more than
5 million are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common
type of dementia, which causes significant decline in memory, thinking, and
behavioral control over time. By 2050 this number is likely to triple,
affecting around 16 million people (Alzheimer’s Association, 2017). Given
increasing attention to the growing rate of older adults in the general
population, people are generally more aware of Alzheimer’s disease and related
disorders (ADRD) and the potentially devastating consequences of such diagnoses
for daily life.  

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The expectation of significant levels of memory loss is a common
concern and negative stereotype related to the aging process. Due to increasing
public awareness and exposure to ADRD, it is important to understand how this
exposure affects the population. For some individuals, anxiety surrounding
cognitive decline can become disruptive to daily life. Kessler, Bowen, Baer,
Froelich, and Wahl (2012) have termed this specific type of anxiety dementia
worry (DW), a phenomenon whereby cognitively healthy adults interpret
everyday forgetfulness as evidence of dementia or become overly concerned with
the possibility of developing dementia. DW can be conceptualized as a specific
type of health worry, and may overlap with health anxiety (i.e. the intense
preoccupation with the idea that one has, or will contract, a particular
disorder or illness; Kessler, et al. 2012). In these cases, people may report
being convinced of having significant memory impairments indicating that they
are developing dementia, even in the absence of any objective memory deficits
(Boone, 2009). DW is an increasing phenomena in Western society, and worry is
higher for dementia than for any other diseases (Kessler, et al. 2012).

Although DW may appear to be a negative concept, it can have both positive and
negative consequences. Some people with high DW may be motivated to become
healthier and improve their lifestyle, as well as make preparations for aging.

DW can be problematic for others, though, correlating with lower life
satisfaction and creating a negative perspective about the future (Kessler et
al., 2012).  

Although one might think DW only affects older adults, as dementia
is a more immediate concern for this population, DW can affect younger adults
as well. DW can occur in individuals of any age or cognitive status. Studies of
DW have not found significantly higher rates of DW in older age groups compared
to middle-aged adults (Werner, 2002; Cutler & Hodgson, 2001) but this may
be because these studies have only looked at adults in middle adulthood,
“young-old” age (65-80 years), and “old-old” age (80+ years). Research is
significantly lacking on DW among young adults, and literature is even more
sparse assessing DW in adults of all ages looking at who might be most
vulnerable to it. 

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