Dementia Prevalence Declines The prevalence of dementia in people older than 65 fell by 24 percent from 2000 to 2012, according to a new study. Its authors suspect the decline may stem from rising educational levels and better heart health—two factors closely related to brain health. The observational cohort study, published in JAMA ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   February 01, 2017
Dementia Prevalence Declines
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Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   February 01, 2017
Dementia Prevalence Declines
The ASHA Leader, February 2017, Vol. 22, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB4.22022017.12
The ASHA Leader, February 2017, Vol. 22, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB4.22022017.12
The prevalence of dementia in people older than 65 fell by 24 percent from 2000 to 2012, according to a new study. Its authors suspect the decline may stem from rising educational levels and better heart health—two factors closely related to brain health.
The observational cohort study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at more than 21,000 U.S. adults from the Health and Retirement Study.
Dementia rates fell from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012, a change that translates to about a million fewer Americans with the condition.
The new research, which confirms the results of other studies conducted in the United States and Europe, provides some of the strongest evidence because of its broad scope and diverse ranges of incomes and ethnic groups.
But even if the percentage of people who develop dementia has fallen, the total number of Americans with the condition will continue to increase because the number of Americans older than 65 is expected to nearly double by 2050 to 84 million, according to the U.S. Census.
Researchers can’t say conclusively why dementia rates are decreasing, but better control of blood pressure and diabetes—which can increase the risk of age-related memory problems and stroke—may be a factor.
Authors of the study found that senior citizens today are better educated than in 2000. Many studies have found a strong link between higher educational levels and lower risk of disease, including dementia, perhaps because people with more education tend to earn more money, have better access to health care, be less likely to smoke and be overweight, and be more likely to exercise.
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February 2017
Volume 22, Issue 2