Background: Despite the current evidence of a high prevalence of forgetfulness in middle-aged individuals, and the evidence of a link between midlife memory complaints and biological changes in the brain, no previous study has yet investigated midlife forgetfulness in relation to risk of dementia in old age. Aims: We investigated whether midlife forgetfulness was an indicator of an increased risk of dementia in old age. Methods: We used data from 3,136 employed men and women who participated in the Danish Work Environment Cohort Study in 1990. These data were linked to Danish national registers. Participants were asked whether their closest relative had ever told them that they were forgetful. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) were estimated using Poisson regression analysis. Results: At baseline, 749 (24%) study participants were categorized as forgetful, and 86 (2.7%) participants were diagnosed with dementia during a total of 31,724 person-years at risk. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, comorbidities, and work-related factors, midlife forgetfulness was associated with a higher risk of dementia (IRR = 1.82; 95% CI: 1.12–2.97). Conclusions: This study is the first to investigate midlife forgetfulness and dementia, and the results suggest that midlife forgetfulness is an early indicator of an increased risk of dementia in old age.

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