Objective: To examine whether subjective memory complaints, measured with a series of four questions, are associated with performance on cognitive tests.
Design: Cross-sectional study of individuals, 65 to 85 years of age, who lived in the community of Amsterdam.
Participants: Individuals were selected randomly within 5-year age strata from the patient lists of 30 general practitioners. Of the 4051 participants, 2537 nondepressed and nondemented respondents were included in the analysis.
Measures: Four categories of subjective memory complaints were developed on the basis of answers to questions about the presence or absence of memory complaints and memory-related problems in daily functioning. Tests of cognitive function were derived from the subscales of the CAMCOG.
Main results: Individuals with complaints and memory-related problems performed more poorly on tests of memory and memory-related functions. This relationship was strengthened after adjusting for age, sex, and premorbid verbal intelligence, all of which were related to complaint status and to performance on cognitive tests.
Conclusion: Simple questions about memory function are related to memory performance in nondepressed, nondemented community-dwelling older people. Subjective memory complaints may be a promising indicator of memory impairment that signals the need for follow-up.