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Dementia Rates In The U.S. Are Falling, Study Confirms

By Monica U Santos , Nov 23, 2016 03:17 AM EST
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A long-running study in the U.S. has found that dementia rates fell steadily over the past four decades. A new study finds that the predominance of dementia has fallen distinctly in recent years, most likely as a result of Americans' rising educational levels and better heart health, which are both closely related to brain health. Also, according to the published study, Americans 65 and older are less likely to get dementia than in the past.

What Is Dementia?

As described by Alzheimer's Association, dementia is not a disease. It's an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain.

Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. According to Web MD, the symptoms of dementia, also known as major neurocognitive disorder, may improve with treatment but aren't curable. Dementia can be split into two groups based on which part of the brain is affected: Cortical dementias and Subcortical dementias.

Dementia Rates In The U.S. Are Falling, Study Confirms

According to Forbes, the study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms previous regional studies in the U.S. Keep in mind that the research, led by Dr. Kenneth Langa of the University of Michigan, does not mean that fewer Americans will suffer from this disease. Indeed, as more of us reach old age, more of us will suffer from various forms of severe cognitive impairment.

Dementia rates for age 65 and above fell from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012, a decline of 24 percent, according to a study across the country published Monday. "It's definitely good news," Dr. Kenneth Langa said in an interview. "Even without a cure for Alzheimer's disease or a new medication, there are things that we can do socially and medically and behaviorally that can significantly reduce the risk."

As per CNN, the study began in 1992 and focuses on people over age 50, collecting data every two years. Researchers conduct detailed interviews with participants about their health, income, cognitive ability and life circumstances. It also includes physical tests, body measures, blood and saliva samples. The study is adjusted for age and sex and was based on a large national sample of older adults called the Health and Retirement Study.

 

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