We want to share with you some encouraging and hopeful news. A recent study has found that between 2000 and 2012, the rate of dementia in the United State decreased from 11.6% to 8.8%. To put it into perspective, if the rates remained constant, then there would be one million+ more people with dementia than there are today (source). This significant decline brings hope and shines a light on the positive work being done by scientists, researchers, physicians, and patients.
What is Dementia?
Let’s begin with the basics. As we explained in the recent article, What is Dementia – dementia is not one specific disease. The term itself describes a collection of symptoms caused by a variety of disorders. The most common cause, and one most familiar to you, is Alzheimer’s, which accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. The second most common dementia type is vascular dementia occurring after a stroke (source). Other causes include: Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Huntington’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
In this study, published by JAMA Internal Medicine, the question that was asked was, “Has the prevalence of dementia among older adults in the United States changed between 2000 and 2012?” The study used data from two specific years (2000 and 2012) and looked at more than 10,000 Americans who were at least 65 years old. In 2000 – 11.6% of them had some form of dementia. In the 2012 – 8.8% had dementia. That is a significant decrease!
Although it is not definitive, the result of the study identified the following as the primary influences:
- The primary influence cited is education. The impact of education both in years of schooling, as well as the easy access to new and challenging information, is linked to the decrease in dementia.
- Those aged 85+ had an increased body weight than in 2000. This can provide more nutrients and energy to help the brain maintain cognitive function.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease (a known cause of dementia) has decreased. The disease has been at the forefront of public awareness campaigns aiding in this decline.
The next step for searchers is to try and definitively understand why there has been a decrease.
How Can You Actively Work to Prevent Dementia?
As suggested by recent research, we know that the function of the brain (no matter its age or status) can be improved by taking a holistic approach and making specific adjustments in your lifestyle. The holistic approach, which has been broken down into five key cornerstones of daily living, (Move, Discover, Relax, Nourish, and Connect) and has been well documented and researched by the AARP and supported through several additional studies. Learn how to improve your brain health here.
The continued focus on caring for our aging population has shown its value with a decrease in the number of those with dementia. We must continue this fight by actively pursuing new research, working in our own ways to prevent dementia, and raising awareness among your loved ones.