Dementia rate declines in the US

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Dramatic decline in dementia seen among older adults in the US

by Sharon Begley

November 21, 2016

“The percent of older US adults with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, declined from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012, a decrease of nearly a quarter, scientists reported on Monday.

Why it matters:

It had been thought that the baby boomers’ march toward old age would triple the number of Alzheimer’s patients by 2050. These new numbers not only portend a lesser burden on the health care system (and families) but also suggest that something has changed over the generations — and identifying that change could drive down dementia rates even further.

You’ll want to know:

That’s a significant decline: If the rate of dementia in 2012 had been what it was in 2000, ‘there would be well more than 1 million additional people with dementia,’ said John Haaga, director of the National Institute on Aging’s behavioral and social research, who was not involved in the study. As it is, an estimated 5 million Americans 65 and older are afflicted with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

The nitty gritty:

Researchers led by Dr. Kenneth Langa of the University of Michigan analyzed data on more than 10,500 Health and Retirement Study participants aged 65 or older in 2000 and 2012.

The percent of seniors with dementia fell to 8.8 percent in 2012; accounting for the greater proportion of those who were 85 years or older, the decline was even greater: to 8.6 percent, the team reported in JAMA Internal Medicine.

One possible factor is education.”  Read more

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