Posted on Feb 22, 2019, 5 p.m.
Dementia rates have been dropping which as been attributed to an increase in mental and physical activities among older adults that was observed despite climbing rates of diseases previously linked to onset of the disease.
The study notes that the older people in this generation have increased their mental acuity that is reflected through an increase in their educational attainment, which may be a deterrent to dementia onset as those with the most years of learning/education were least likely to develop the disease; this may be why there is a declining trend as the seniors are more likely to have finished high school and gone on to higher education than those who lived a decade prior.
To assess trends test outcomes and data was used from the Health and Retirement Study, 21,000 people were sampled for the study; 11.6% were interviewed in 2000 who fulfilled requirements for dementia; and 8.8% were classified in 2012; the average number of years spent acquiring education was found to have risen over the course of study.
Only years spent in formal education were used as key markers; other physical activities can result in brain development such as reading, and career development may also be evident in reducing risk of dementia. The link between dementia and education is suggested to possibly be due to the manners in which the brain is used, being challenged and used more in developed interactions, and cognitive reserves of brain pathways are formed which are what the brain uses in order to survive the onslaught of dementia in later years.
According to the University of Liverpool and University College London dementia rates are also dropping in the UK due to improvements in medical knowledge and developments in the way people take care of themselves; the percentage of people diagnosed dropped 2.7% in 2017, and there are 800,000 patients with dementia in the UK.
Dementia has no known cure, it is a term used to describe disorders that affect brain function, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. Symptoms can include declining mental acuity, loss of words, reduced thinking speed, and memory loss. Illnesses linked to dementia can include obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure as they impair circulation of blood to the brain which may increase risk of the disease developing due to insufficient oxygenation.
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