The newsletter of the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University

Age-Associated Memory Impairment (AAMI)

Age-Associate Memory Impairment (AAMI) refers to a normal decline in memory due to aging.

Some decline in memory is normal as we age. This often takes the form of "memory lapses" (e.g., forgetting where you left your glasses). Older memories and memories of personal information (e.g. the names of family members) tend to survive well into old age. Individuals with AAMI may show this kind of memory decline, but it is within the limits of what is considered "normal" for their age group.

Memory decline which is more severe or consistent may be classified as Mild Cognitive Impairment and may indicate the early stages of a condition such as dementia. In the 1980s, a group of scientists and physicians at the National Institutes of Health developed a set of standards for diagnosing AAMI. A patient may be considered to have AAMI if he or she is at least 50 years old and meets all of the following criteria:

  • The patient has noticed a decline in memory performance.
  • The patient performs below "normal" levels on a standard test of memory.
  • All other obvious causes of memory decline, except normal aging, have been ruled out. (In other words, the memory decline cannot be attributed to other causes such as a recent heart attack or head injury, depression, adverse reactions to medication, Alzheimer's disease, etc.)

It is not yet clear how many elderly Americans would meet all the criteria for AAMI; clearly many people survive into extreme old age without showing any noticeable memory decline.

Further Reading

Forgetfulness in Old Age: It's Not What You Think. National Institute on Aging, 1993. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.


by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain