Drop in Dementia

Dementia rates decreased in the UK over a twenty year period

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There’s no cure for dementia, but it may not be spreading as widely as doctors once predicted. Healthier generations may have a lower risk for developing dementia in the future. A recent study looked at dementia rates among senior adults in the United Kingdom (UK) in the 1990s and again 20 years later.

The results of this study showed a decrease in the rates of dementia in senior men and women in the UK.

"Eat healthy and be active."

For this study, Carol Brayne, MD, from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health at Cambridge University in the UK, worked with a team of fellow scientists to investigate dementia in aging seniors.

This study was part of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS) in the UK. Beginning in 1989, the CFAS recruited adults 65 years of age and older from three different areas in England.

During the first wave of the study (CFAS I), the researchers interviewed 7,635 people (3,045 men, 4,590 women) between 1989 and 1994 about their health, lifestyle habits and medical history. The researchers also screened 1,457 people in the CFAS I group for dementia. Based on the interviews and screening results, the researchers estimated that 8.3 percent of the population would develop dementia by 2011.

However, during the second wave of the study (CFAS II), which was done in 2011, the researchers interviewed 7,796 individuals (3,550 men, 4,246 women) and found that only 6.5 percent had dementia. That's a 24 percent lower rate of dementia than the 8.3 percent rate that had been expected for 2011.

The researchers did find a couple of differences between the CFAS I and II populations.

In CFAS I, the researchers found that 56 percent of people living in nursing home facilities had dementia. But by CFAS II, 70 percent of people living in nursing home facilities had dementia.

The researchers also found that more women (7.7 percent) had dementia than men (4.9 percent).

Rates of dementia increased as people aged, with the lowest percentage of dementia found in people between 65 and 74 years of age and the highest rates of dementia found in people who were 85 years of age and older.

The exact same screening tools were used for CFAS I and II to test for dementia.

The researchers concluded that people born in the later generation had a lower risk of developing dementia.

Previous research has suggested that physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, can raise the risk for developing dementia.

The study authors suggest additional research into dementia, specifically the health problems that may increase the risk for dementia and quality healthcare, in the future.

This study was published in July in The Lancet.

The UK Medical Research Council provided funding for this project. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 16, 2013
Last Updated:
July 29, 2013