UCLA researchers and the Gallup organization collaborated on a nationwide poll of more than 18,500 individuals between the ages of 18 and 99.
The goal was to examine the impact of lifestyle choices on memory throughout adult life.
Respondents were surveyed about both their memory and their health behaviors, including whether they smoked, how much they exercised, and if they ate healthy.
The research findings were published in the June issue of International Psychogeriatrics .
"These findings reinforce the importance of educating young and middle-aged individuals to take greater responsibility for their health — including memory — by practicing positive lifestyle behaviors earlier in life," said the study's first author, Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.
Older adults may participate in more healthy behaviors because they feel the consequences of unhealthy living and take the advice of their doctors to adopt healthier lifestyles. While 26 percent of older adults and 22 percent of middle-aged respondents reported memory issues, it was surprising to find that 14 percent of the younger group complained about their memory.
"Memory issues were to be expected in the middle-aged and older groups, but not in younger people."The study was supported by the Gallup organization, Healthways, the Parlow–Solomon Professorship on Aging, the Ahmanson Foundation, the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Fund for Alzheimer's Disease Research, the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and the UCLA Longevity Center. Torres-Gil is a consultant with Healthways.
Additional study authors included Prabha Siddarth, Linda M. Ercoli, Stephen T. Chen and Dr. David Merrill of the UCLA Longevity Center and the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA's Semel Institute.