Dementia–A Growing Problem

It is Sunday and I would like to offer up a little FYI to help my readers navigate life and its pitfalls.

A growing problem with the elderly is the growing incidents of dementia among the retired and elderly.

It appears that 10% of our seniors are fighting dementia…..

The first nationally representative study of the prevalence of cognitive decline in the US that has been carried out in more than two decades found that 10% of Americans over the age of 65 have dementia and another 22% have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The study, published in JAMA Neurology, specifically aimed to find out how prevalent cognitive issues were by age, education, ethnicity, gender, and race, and it found that Black people were more likely to have dementia (their rates were 15% for dementia and 22% for MCI), CNN reports. Hispanic people were found to be more likely to suffer from MCI (28%, and their rate for dementia was 10%), and both conditions were more common in people with less than a high school level of education (13% for dementia, 30% for MCI).

“Dementia research in general has largely focused on college-educated people who are racialized as white,” the lead study author says in a statement. “This study is representative of the population of older adults and includes groups that have been historically excluded from dementia research but are at higher risk of developing cognitive impairment because of structural racism and income inequality.” The randomly selected sample of study participants completed a survey and had neurological testing done between 2016 and 2017. Among white people, 9% were found to have dementia and 21% were found to have MCI. Those same rates were also true of people with college degrees.

The study found that each year of additional education was associated with a diminished risk of dementia, the Hill reports. No significant difference was found in the rates of men versus women with dementia or MCI. The rates did, however, change dramatically with age: 3% of those between 65 and 69 were found to have dementia compared to 35% for those aged 90 or above; a higher risk of both conditions was found with every five-year difference in age. While it is not uncommon for people with MCI to go on to develop dementia, not everyone does, and interventions related to diet, exercise, sleep, and stress can improve MCI. Another recent study estimated that if more isn’t done, dementia cases could almost triple by 2050.

There are many people that have the answer as to why dementia is gaining on our seniors….this is one of those possible causes…

Before they plop on the couch to engage in some “leisure-time sedentary behaviors,” adults over 60 may want to pay attention to a recent study linking increased dementia risk to watching TV. In short, per the Washington Post, “those whose time sitting was primarily spent watching television had a 24% increased risk for dementia.” But wait, that’s not the only takeaway. The peer-reviewed study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that computer use was associated with a 15% reduced risk of dementia. The simple explanation is that nothing beats television when it comes to cognitively passive activities; by contrast, using a computer requires at least some level of cognitive engagement, not unlike the antiquated activity known as reading.

Researchers tapped the UK’s Biobank to build the study cohort of some 146,651 individuals, whom they tracked for about 12 years, controlling for numerous lifestyle and demographic variables along the way, according to MD Edge. High use of TV—at least 4 hours per day—correlated to the highest risk of dementia, while as little as 30 minutes of computer use yielded reduced risk. “What we do while we’re sitting matters,” study lead David Raichlen noted, per Science Daily. “This knowledge is critical when it comes to designing targeted public health interventions aimed at reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disease from sedentary activities.”

In a slight twist compared to previous studies, researchers found that participants’ level of physical activity did not affect their odds of developing dementia if in fact they also watched a lot of TV. As for why computer use is beneficial, one notable neurologist—Dr. Andrew E. Budson, who was not associated with the study—explained to MD Edge that even light cognitive activity on the computer engages important parts of the cerebral cortex. While Dr. Budson emphasized that physical activity is always preferable to sedentary behavior, he added, “This is one of the first times I’ve been convinced that even when the computer activity isn’t completely new and novel, it may be beneficial.”

I know with all that nay-saying….what can we do to prevent the slide into the dark world of dementia?

Glad you asked….

I hope this info will help you now or in the future….since as we grow older there are many obstacles that seniors need to overcome….

I just try to help.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”