I in 10 older Americans have dementia and cognitive decline in the U.S.

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Columbia University researchers have recently published the first nationally representative study in over 20 years on the rates of dementia and mild cognitive issues in the U.S.

The study found that almost 10% of U.S. adults ages 65 and older are living with dementia, while another 22% are dealing with mild cognitive issues.

The study is a wake-up call, as it fills in gaps in our understanding of how widespread these conditions are across the country.

Dementia and mild cognitive impairment are conditions that affect your memory and thinking skills. They are especially concerning for older adults, as they can make everyday tasks difficult.

Rates are much higher in people over 90, with 35% of them having dementia. The study shows that both men and women have similar chances of developing these conditions.

Jennifer J. Manly, the lead author of the study, points out that this data is essential. It helps us understand the full scale of the issue and can guide policies to support those affected and their families.

Unveiling Disparities: Who is Most Affected?

Another crucial part of this study is its inclusivity. Unlike past research, this one includes a diverse set of participants.

The findings show that older adults who identify as Black or African American are more likely to have dementia. Those who identify as Hispanic are more likely to have mild cognitive impairment.

Additionally, people who had fewer educational opportunities are also at a higher risk for both conditions. This indicates that social and structural factors, like inequality and discrimination, can impact brain health.

“We need to know where we stand now and where to direct our resources if we’re interested in increasing brain health equity in later life,” says Manly.

The Economic Toll and Why It Matters

The rising numbers of dementia cases are not just a health concern; they also have a substantial economic impact.

The cost of dementia, including the invaluable time given by family caregivers, is estimated to be around $257 billion a year in the U.S. and $800 billion globally.

With more people living longer, especially the Baby Boom generation, these numbers are expected to increase significantly.

If we aim to lessen the impact of dementia and mild cognitive issues, accurate data like this study provides are invaluable. It helps policymakers, families, and healthcare providers know what challenges we’re up against.

What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

It’s worth noting that not everyone who has mild cognitive impairment will develop dementia. Mild cognitive impairment is sort of a middle-ground condition.

It’s more severe than normal age-related forgetfulness but not as severe as dementia. However, it can make daily life more challenging and may progress into more serious conditions.

This study makes it clear that cognitive issues are a growing concern in the U.S. With an aging population, understanding the prevalence and impact of dementia and mild cognitive impairment is crucial for developing effective policies and healthcare interventions.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about People with vision problems more likely to have dementia and findings of 7 healthy habits can fight off dementia, even if it’s in your genes.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about Vitamin B9 deficiency linked to higher dementia risk, and results showing flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s disease.

The research findings can be found in JAMA Neurology.

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