Background Approximately 50% of older individuals perceive themselves as being forgetful. Objective The objective of this review is to get an overview of previous research on the relation between perceived forgetfulness (in the absence of objective memory deficit) and quality of life in older individuals. Findings in previous research might be a starting point for further research and possible future interventions. Methods Scientific papers that investigated the relation between subjective memory complaints and quality of life were searched. Two independent raters scored the articles on their methodology. The methodological quality was taken into account when conclusions were drawn. Results The literature search resulted in 682 articles, of which five studies met the inclusion criteria. Although the five studies differed in their methodology, the findings of the methodologically adequate studies show a relation between memory complaints and a diminished quality of life in the elderly. Conclusions The negative impact that subjective memory complaints can have on quality of life makes it important to acknowledge forgetfulness as a serious issue in the life of older individuals. However, more research is needed to explore the relationship between subjective memory complaints and quality of life, also with regard to the influence of depression and objective memory performance.