Dementia Rates to Rise Faster Than Previously Thought

The number of people living with dementia in England and Wales in 2040 could be 42% higher than previously forecast.

Earlier research has shown that dementia rates are declining in high-income countries. However, the number of people living with dementia in England and Wales in 2040 may double and reach 1.7 million, an increase from 1.2 million based on previous predictions, a study published in The Lancet Public Health found.

The University College London (UCL) researchers examined nine waves of data from people aged 50 and older living in private households in England between 2002 and 2019.

They found that while the number of people with dementia dropped by 28.8% between 2002 and 2008, it increased again by 25.2% between 2008 and 2016.

Yuntao Chen, a research assistant at UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care and lead author, said: "Not only will this have a devastating effect on the lives of those involved but it will also put a considerably larger burden on health and social care than current forecasts predict."

The increase is mainly driven by improved life expectancy; however, the rate of dementia onset within older age groups is also increasing.

Disparities in the rate of dementia incidence were increasing between education groups: among participants with lower educational attainment, the decline was slower from 2002 to 2008, and the increase was faster after 2008.

The findings suggest that dementia will likely become a more urgent policy problem than previously recognized, even if the upward trend is temporary.

What causes dementia?

Dementia is a broad term for loss of memory and other thinking abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60% to 80% of cases.

A study published in The Lancet Public Health last year estimated that the number of adults living with a form of dementia worldwide will nearly triple from 57 million in 2019 to 153 million in 2050.

In the United States, rates of dementia are expected to increase from 5.8 million now to 14 million by 2060, with Hispanics and African Americans being affected the most.

Environment and genetic background may be factors for dementia. Other risk factors that cannot be controlled are increasing age and gender — women are more likely than men to have dementia.

According to a 2019 study published in JAMA, one case of dementia could be prevented for every 121 high-risk individuals per 10 years if they changed their lifestyle, given dementia this is a huge factor for dementia.

This is what everyone can do to reduce the risk:

  • Keep your blood pressure within normal range.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Engage in regular physical activity.
  • Follow a healthy diet low in saturated fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Lower alcohol consumption to less than 12 drinks per week.
  • Keep levels of cognitive engagement high.
  • Seek treatment for depression if you have the condition.
  • Reduce social isolation by maintaining meaningful connections.

As dementia rates are soaring globally, it is crucial to adopt healthy lifestyle choices to minimize the risk.

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