Dementia was¬†expected to double in ten years and triple in 2050. Now it seems like it isn't going to be the case after all. For the past 6 years, the number of older people with dementia has declined.
Photo by Karen Beate N√łsterud
The percentage of people with dementia and Alzheimer's dwindled from¬†11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012. This study includes Americans age 65 and older. At present, the decline has reached 24%. The greater proportion of those 8.8% decline in 2012 were from the 85 years or older age group. The decline translated to less than one million fewer Americans suffering from the condition.
Several reasons caused the decline. Dr. Kenneth Langa, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and a coauthor of the new study
¬†said doctors may be doing a better job controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, which can both boost the risk of age-related memory problems.
However, the the unlikely candidate behind the decline is found to be education. The 2012 group in the study was found to have spent one more year in their studies than the 2000 group. Although the education link can have an even complex explanation, Langa¬†reaffirms education's role in the decline. "That's significant, because many studies have found a strong link between higher educational levels and lower risk of disease, including dementia."
The cognitive reserve hypothesis explains that education improves the brain with much needed stimulation which in return making them more resistant to dementia.
Having access to good¬†education also has links to socio-economic factors. People who can afford years of education has access to better healthcare and can compensate¬†for the memory problems as they age.
John Haaga, director of behavioral and social research at the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the new study said, "We have widening inequality in health outcomes in the U.S. For people without much education, we've had very little improvement in health. The benefits really have gone to those with better educations."
See:¬†Smart Tech Monitors Grannies' Restless Wanderings