A new study published on Monday by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that the US dementia rates are dropping to the tune of 24%. The study aptly named “A Comparison of the Prevalence of Dementia in the United States in 2000 and 2012” showed a significant decline in the (US) rate of dementia. This decline was largely due to improvements in brain-health (between the years 2000-2012) and “better control of cardiovascular risk factors“.
As has been previously discussed, a number of studies have shown a positive trend in the correlation of exercise and cognitive decline. There has also been a number of recent breakthroughs in understanding dementia related illnesses. Some of those breakthroughs are incredibly interesting like the role music plays in temporarily unlocking dementia symptoms, and the role diet and/or vitamins may play.
More years of formal education is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, likely through multiple causal pathways, including a direct effect on brain development and function (ie, the building of “cognitive reserve”), health behaviors, as well as the general health advantages of having more wealth and opportunities. – Langa, Larson, Crimmins – JAMA, Nov. 21, 2016
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is defined as “a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning”. Brain diseases like dementia are hitting a huge numbers of aging individuals these days. All in all, 1 in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
JAMA Study Conclusion on Dementia Rates
The JAMA Author's conclusions leave the door open to more study on this subject matter: “The prevalence of dementia in the United States declined significantly between 2000 and 2012. An increase in educational attainment was associated with some of the decline in dementia prevalence, but the full set of social, behavioral, and medical factors contributing to the decline is still uncertain. Continued monitoring of trends in dementia incidence and prevalence will be important for better gauging the full future societal impact of dementia as the number of older adults increases in the decades ahead.”
CNN published a piece from Liz Szabo who noted “While advocates for people with dementia welcomed the news, they noted that Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory loss remain a serious burden for the nation and the world. Up to five million Americans today suffer from dementia, a number that is expected to triple by 2050, as people live longer and the elderly population increases.”
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There is much more to learn about dementia related diseases, but news like this should inject a degree of optimism in those affected by this dreaded disease.