The Significance of Memory Complaints in Later Life

Methodological and Theoretical Considerations
  • George Niederehe
Part of the The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)


In their seminal study of 1,134 elderly San Franciscans, Lowenthal, Berkman, and their associates (1967) found complaints of failing memory so frequently that they termed them (alongside reports of decreased energy) “stereotypes of aging.” Declining memory was reported by nearly half the community residents and by even higher percentages of those evidencing psychiatric symptoms, whether hospitalized or living in the community. Though self-reports of memory decline increased with age, this pattern was not substantiated by scores on objective cognitive tests, which remained stable with age. These findings were consistent with some other reports mentioning discrepancies between patients’ performance on objective tests or measures of function and the levels of impairment that clinicians had expected to find, based on patients’ self-reports (e.g., Friedman, 1964).


Memory Performance Memory Complaint Memory Decline Implicit Model Memory Change 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Niederehe
    • 1
  1. 1.Adult and Geriatric Treatment and Preventive Intervention, Research BranchNational Institute of Mental HealthRockvilleUSA

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