"Benign forgetfulness of the elderly" is a term used to refer to a presumed mild and normal decline in cognition with age. It is unclear if this decline is inevitable or if a component of this decline might be due to reversible risk factors. Elkins and colleagues (2004) hypothesized that among elderly patients without clinical evidence of stroke or dementia, the presence of stroke risk factors would predict the presence of cognitive decline.
An inverse relationship between stroke risk (expressed in quartiles) and the likelihood of having high cognitive function was found. In addition, stroke risk was a predictor of decline on cognitive testing with the modified Mini-Mental Status Examination, even in the absence of clinically identifiable stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) events. These findings suggest that some aspects of cognitive decline attributed to normal aging may be related to modifiable risk factors.
Elkins JS et al: Stroke risk factors and loss of high cognitive function. Neurology 63:793, 2004