Subjective memory complaints, cognitive performance, and psychological factors in healthy older adults

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2013 Dec;28(8):776-83. doi: 10.1177/1533317513504817.


Objective: To determine whether subjective memory complaints (SMCs) are associated with performance on objective cognitive measures and psychological factors in healthy, community-dwelling older adults.

Method: The cohort was composed of adults, 65 years and older with no clinical evidence of cognitive impairment (n = 125). Participants were administered: CogState computerized neurocognitive battery, Prospective Retrospective Memory Questionnaire, personality and meaning-in-life measures.

Results: SMCs were associated with poorer performance on measures of executive function (p = 0.001). SMCs were also associated with impaired delayed recall (p = 0.006) but this did not remain significant after statistical adjustment for multiple comparisons. SMCs were inversely associated with conscientiousness (p = 0.004) and directly associated with neuroticism (p < 0.001). Higher scores on SMCs were associated with higher perceived stress (p = 0.001), and ineffective coping styles (p = 0.001). Factors contributing to meaning-in-life were associated with fewer SMCs (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: SMCs may reflect early, subtle cognitive changes and are associated with personality traits and meaning-in-life in healthy, older adults.

Keywords: cognitive performance; healthy; meaning-in-life; older adults; personality traits; subjective memory complaints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Memory Disorders / psychology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires