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'Pre-dementia' on the rise

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The Associated Press reports that a milder type of mental decline that often precedes Alzheimer’s disease is alarmingly more common than has been believed, and in men more than women, doctors reported Monday.

According to the wire service, nearly a million older Americans slide from normal memory into mild impairment each year, researchers estimate, based on a Mayo Clinic study of Minnesota residents.

That’s on top of the half million Americans who develop full-blown Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia – a problem sure to grow as baby boomers age. The oldest boomers turn 62 this year.

“We’re seeing that in fact there’s a much larger burgeoning problem out there” of people at risk of developing dementia, Dr. Ronald Petersen, the Mayo scientist who led the study, told the AP.