A recent study revealed that dementia rates in the US have dropped by nearly 25 percent from 2000 to 2012. Dementia is a progressive disease that causes memory loss and confusion. There are several forms, including vascular and dementia with Lewy Bodies. Over five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease the most common type of dementia.

What could the sharp decline in dementia rates mean for future generations of seniors?

The Health and Retirement Study

woman drawing a graph Researchers at the University of Michigan studied 21,000 people over age 50, conducting interviews about overall health, cognitive ability and more. Physical tests were also administered to obtain body measurements, blood and saliva samples. The study concluded that dementia rates in people over age 65 dropped from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012. These findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine in November 2016. Researchers are yet to find a definitive reason for the 24 percent drop, but better control over high blood pressure and diabetes could have played a part. These common health complications can often lead to age-related memory problems. Seniors are generally healthier and better educated than they were at the start of the 2000s.

Implications of the Study

This study was funded by the National Institute on Aging; their Director of Behavioral and Social Research estimates that the 2.8 percent decline equals about one million fewer Americans suffering from dementia. Although these findings are significant, dementia is still a serious health concern, with no cure for Alzheimer’s disease yet. The Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach, Medical and Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer’s Association pointed out that by 2050, the number of Americans over 65 is expected to double to 84 million. So, the number of people suffering from dementia will continue to increase despite this recent decline.

At West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center, we have a state-of-the-art facility for dementia care. Residents are safe, comfortable and cared for 24 hours a day. To learn more about what we offer, contact us today!