According to an article by David Green on The Legacy, research conducted in England, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands pointed out that there is a decrease in these countries’ dementia cases, and newer studies have extended those observations to more regions.
A multi-year study in the U.S. funded by the federal government followed up on new dementia cases involving thousands of people over the age of 60 in five-year periods beginning in 1978, 1989, 1996, and 2006.
The results suggest that the dementia rates have been gradually decreasing. Compared to 1978, new cases of the disease turned out to be 22% lower for the 1989 group, 38% lower for the 1996 group, and 44% lower for the 2006 group.
Moreover, the average age for dementia diagnoses also rose from 80 years old in the first group to 85 in the last one.
Over that time, there seems to have been a decline in heart disease, strokes, smoking, factors related to dementia, as well as a rise in the number of people using medication for blood pressure and receiving a high school diploma — factors likely to reduce dementia’s development.
According to the same article, the explanation given by some of the researchers for these results seems to be linked to increased education and control of different health factors like blood pressure and cholesterol.
On the other hand, the studies also revealed an inverse tendency in some poor countries, where health and education are both lacking. In these countries, the dementia rate appears to be increasing.
To researchers, Alzheimer’s will remain a serious public health concern, but for the countries that are experiencing a drop in the rates, it represents the possibility to lower the current projections for needed services and spending.
Worldwide, Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, affects more than 35 million people, of which over 5.4 million are Americans. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, and the existing drugs can only temporarily mitigate its consequences.