Dementia on the Decline?

November 29, 2016

A recent study involving 21,000 seniors concluded that dementia rates in the US are falling. This large study confirms what other smaller studies already discovered.

Closeup of a happy old man on the wheel chair with a nurse

Among adults 65 years or older, researchers found that dementia decreased from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012 – a 24% reduction. In other words, an estimated 1.5 million people that were expected to have dementia now appear to have dodged the diagnosis.

This study poses a puzzling picture for researchers, especially in light of the growing rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases thought to increase one’s risk for dementia.   One possible explanation is that people who are now entering their mid-60s have higher average rates of education, a marker linked to better cognitive health.

Doctors can’t predict who will and won’t develop dementia as they age. Yet there are a few things that people of all ages can do to keep their brain healthy and strong. Regular exercise, weight maintenance and a nutritious diet all help. Education is also viewed as helpful because it’s seen as building reserves that help people retain cognitive abilities as they age.

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