The Impact of Memory Change on Daily Life in Normal Aging and Mild Cognitive Impairment

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Purpose of the Study:

Older adults with age-normal memory changes and those with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) report mild memory difficulties with everyday problems such as learning new names or remembering past events. Although the type and extent of memory changes in these populations have been well documented, little is known about how memory changes impact their everyday lives.

Design and Methods:

Using a qualitative research design, data were collected from three focus groups of older adults with normal memory changes (n = 23) and two focus groups of older adults with aMCI (n = 14). A thematic analysis using the constant comparative method was used to identify the impacts of memory change on key life domains.


Four major themes emerged from the two groups, including changes in feelings and views of the self, changes in relationships and social interactions, changes in work and leisure activities, and deliberate increases in compensatory behaviors. Participants described both positive and negative consequences of memory change, and these were more substantial and generally more adverse for individuals with aMCI than for those with age-normal memory changes.


There are similarities and important differences in the impact of mild memory change on the everyday lives of older adults with age-normal memory changes and those with aMCI. Findings underscore the need for clinical interventions that aim to minimize the emotional impact of memory changes and that increase leisure and social activity in individuals with aMCI.

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