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Not everyone who becomes forgetful as they age develops dementia, and a new study suggests that those with college degrees and advanced language skills are likely to get better.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an early stage of memory loss marked by lapses in memory and thinking problems that don’t interfere with everyday life. While people with MCI are more likely to develop dementia than folks who don’t have these early memory lapses, some improve and return to normal.

“Although many people assume that if they develop mild cognitive impairment they will inevitably progress to dementia, we found encouraging evidence that this is not so,” said study author Suzanne Tyas, an associate professor of public health sciences at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

Education and language skills can help predict who will go on to develop dementia and who won’t, the study found.

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