Dementia rate declines but aging America may halt the trend

Dementia rate declines but aging America may halt the trend

Dementia rate declines but aging America may halt the trend

However, the study also showed that in 2012, better diabetes treatment was associated with a significantly lower overall risk of dementia compared with 2000.

In the study, the researchers analyzed information from a nationally representative sample of about 21,000 US adults ages 65 and older who were tested for dementia from 2000 to 2012.

The study conducted by Prof Kenneth Langa from the University of MI looked at the American population of over 65s, involving 21,000 people across all levels of education, health, income and race who participated in the Health and Retirement Study in 2000 and 2012. There are medical factors, too.

The drop in the rate of dementia means about one million fewer Americans are affected by the condition, said John Haaga, director of behavioral and social research at the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, which sponsored the study.

Langa stressed that even if a breakthrough medication that successfully treats Alzheimer's isn't found in the near future, there are still factors that can help decrease the risk for dementia and help people live longer lives with good mental function.

Vascular dementia is the second most common kind of dementia and is caused by strokes.

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Importance The aging of the USA population is expected to lead to a large increase in the number of adults with dementia, but some recent studies in the United States and other high-income countries suggest that the age-specific risk of dementia may have declined over the past 25 years.

Researchers analyzed nationally representative government surveys of about 10,500 older adults in both years, including some living in nursing homes.

The average age of study participants, named the Health and Retirement Study, was 75. Researchers conduct detailed interviews with participants about their health, income, cognitive ability and life circumstances. Physical performance testing, body measurements, and blood and saliva testing are also included and new cohorts are enrolled as the study population ages. The total number of people with dementia is still set to increase, with a projected 200,000 new cases of dementia each year in the UK.

The number of Americans over age 65 is expected to almost double by 2050, reaching 84 million, according to the U.S. Census. That is well over a million people who would have the condition if the rates had stayed at the same level as recorded in 2000.

"We just don't know if there may be an uptick of dementia risk going forward because of those other changes", said Langa.

"More Baby Boomers have completed some higher education than any previous generation, but the trend toward more education appears to be leveling off in the U.S. And there are clear disparities in educational attainment according to wealth and ethnicity", he says.

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The downward trend has emerged amid a rising tide of three factors that are thought to raise dementia risk - diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

"But our results do provide some hope and optimism that we can do things now to decrease dementia risk, so that the future impact, while still very large, may not be as dire as previously expected", he said.

They noted that the decline could be linked to an increase in seniors' years of education. The Alzheimer's Association says more than 28 million baby boomers will develop the disease between now and 2050, and the cost of caring for them will consume almost 25 percent of Medicare spending in 2040. The reasons are likely to be complex. Better education can also improve the quality of a person's life, which has an impact on the brain as well.

Despite a falling dementia rate, the disease still became the biggest killer in England and Wales past year.

Although educational levels increased sharply after the World War II, those gains have leveled off, Haaga said.

"We have widening inequality in health outcomes in the U.S.", Haaga said. "The benefits really have gone to those with better educations". That's because the population of older adults in this country is increasing. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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