Fear of memory loss predicts increased memory failures and lower quality of life in older adults: preliminary findings from a fear-avoidance of memory loss (FAM) scale

F. R. Farina*, M. Bennett, J. W. Griffith, B. Lenaert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Few studies have measured the impact of dementia-related fear on daily functioning, despite its clinical relevance. Our aim was to determine the relationship between fear-avoidance of memory loss, perceived memory failures and self-reported quality of life in a community based sample of older adults using a novel fear of memory loss (FAM) scale.
Methods: Sixty-seven older adults (59–81 years) completed a 23-item self-report scale designed to capture multi-faceted components of fear of memory loss, known as the FAM scale. Perceived memory failures were measured using the Memory Failures Scale (MFS) and quality of life was assessed using the Older Person’s Quality of Life scale (OPQOL-35). Participants also completed the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS-IV) as a measure of objective memory performance and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS) and the Geriatric Anxiety Inventory (GAI) as measures of general anxiety.
Results: The FAM scale demonstrated strong internal consistency (Cronbach’s α = .82) and concurrent validity with the GAI (r = .47). Three latent factors were observed: (1) fear-avoidance, (2) problematic beliefs and (3) affective resilience. After adjusting for objective memory performance and general anxiety, higher fear-avoidance significantly predicted increased perceived memory failures (p = .014) and reduced quality of life (p = .033).
Conclusions: Fear of memory loss predicts increased perceived memory failures and lower self-reported quality of life in a community sample of older adults. Based on these findings, we propose a preliminary fear-avoidance model that explains the development and maintenance of dementia-related functional disability in terms of psychological processes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-492
Number of pages7
JournalAging & Mental Health
Issue number3
Early online date4 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2022


  • Ageing
  • memory loss
  • fear
  • avoidance
  • quality of life
  • memory failures

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