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US Dementia Rates Drop 24%, New Study Finds (cnn.com) 105

A new study involving more than 21,000 people across the country finds that dementia rates in people over age 65 fell from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012 -- a decline of 24 percent. CNN reports: The decline in dementia rates translates to about one million fewer Americans suffering from the condition, said John Haaga, director of behavioral and social research at the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the new study. Dementia is a general term for a loss of memory or other mental abilities that's severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease, which is believed to be caused by a buildup of plaques and tangles in the brain, is the most common type of dementia. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia and occurs after a stroke. The study, which began in 1992, focuses on people over age 50, collecting data every two years. Researchers conduct detailed interviews with participants about their health, income, cognitive ability and life circumstances. The interviews also include physical tests, body measurements and blood and saliva samples. Although researchers can't definitively explain why dementia rates are decreasing, Langa said doctors may be doing a better job controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, which can both boost the risk of age-related memory problems. High blood pressure and diabetes both increase the risk of strokes, which kill brain cells, increasing the risk of vascular dementia. Authors of the study found that senior citizens today are better educated than even half a generation ago. The population studied in 2012 stayed in school 13 years, while the seniors studied in 2000 had about 12 years of education, according to the study. People who are better educated may have more intellectually stimulating jobs and hobbies that help exercise their brains, Langa said. The study has been published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
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US Dementia Rates Drop 24%, New Study Finds

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  • Impossible (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2016 @03:02AM (#53337335)

    This makes no sense. If it were true how did Trump get elected?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This makes no sense. If it were true how did Trump get elected?

      The article is specific about dementia. Not stupidity, which is now rampant.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        People at Trump and Clinton's age already have signs (in the Brain) of Dementia even if the condition doesn't present itself. That's an actual fact, not some made-up nonsense.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      This makes no sense. If it were true how did Trump get elected?

      Actually it makes total sense: the reason why there's an apparent drop in cases of dementia in the US is because the rest of the population is getting it. When Americans select a dangerous populist as POTUS, clearly they've started to forget the past and behave erratically. If that's not dementia, I don't know what is.

      In other words, when the entire country is starting to go gaga, the real gagas go under the radar. Hence the drop.

      • Actually it makes total sense: the reason why there's an apparent drop in cases of dementia in the US is because the rest of the population is getting it. When Americans select a dangerous populist as POTUS, clearly they've started to forget the past and behave erratically. If that's not dementia, I don't know what is.

        As opposed to selecting a documented career politician who shows the characteristics of being a power-hungry, corrupt, pathological liar who cares nothing about the lives she is effecting?

        Hmmm, now I will agree about the position of "rest of the population getting it" in the context of they have finally woken up (thus the decrease in cases) and started to see the truth themselves instead of being told what the truth is.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        this study period ended 2012. like to blame trump on someone, but this isn't it (that is a study of the effects of mass and social media and reality television on poorly educated, easily influenced morons breathing too much manure fumes in rural red states; among other things)

        it's more like doctors are facing increasing pressure from their facilities' business offices to not officially diagnose conditions that can be expensive to treat, are incurable and life-long, that mostly affects older lower-profit med

    • It went from one in about 9 to one in about 11 old people having dementia.

      Plus, they didn't bother with checking if there's any correlation between dementia and hand size.

    • Why do you asshole trolls keep bringing up the election? Go die in a fucking fire.

    • It's not impossible. The drop in dementia could be related to the year over year drop in PC sales. As PC sales drop, so do the number of people afflicted with Microsoft Windows. And thus dementia rates decline. For several years now, Chromebooks have been the most popular laptops on Amazon. So there is hope.
    • Such is the size of the genocide to achieve such advance in public mental health. I omit the argumentation but someone had to stop it! And it would not be the Administration that did not even notice it.
  • Lead? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2016 @03:09AM (#53337339)

    I wonder if it is part of the theorized behavioral wave resultant from banning Tetraethyllead.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    The ban is correlated with the lead free generation of young adults having a greatly reduced threshold for criminal violence and murder.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2016 @03:24AM (#53337375)

      From WIkipedia
      Reduction in the average blood lead level is believed to have been a major cause for falling violent crime rates in the United States[52] and South Africa.[53] Researchers including Amherst College economist Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, Department of Housing and Urban Development consultant Rick Nevin, and Howard Mielke of Tulane University, say that declining exposure to lead is responsible for up to a 56% decline in crime from 1992 to 2002.[54]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This was also the first thing that came to my mind when reading this. It is amazing how regulatory changes can affect the well being of millions of people. Not to get too political, but this is one of the aspects of Trump's "Remove two regulations for every one added" that scares me a bit. Let's hope regulation on emissions is not one of the regulations that get cut. (although the plan to expand the fossil fuel energy sector suggests otherwise)

      As an interesting tidbit that slashdot readers may find interest

    • by TheLink ( 130905 )
      The release of Doom and similar video games is also correlated to the falling crime rates. Perhaps the more hours young adults spend on such games the fewer hours they spend bashing or killing each other? ;)
    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      I doubt it. Dementia is a disease of the elderly. Even my parents in their mid 60s spend half their lives around leaded gas. I am not sure how old you have to be before they stop calling it early onset but the folks with sever issues that I have mostly encountered tend to be in their late 70s and 80s. So they will have spend the majority of their lives around leaded gas.

      So I would expect its to early to make attribution. That does not rule out all kinds of other environmental factors though.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Stroke treatment has massively improved, too.

    • Or more people switched from Tylenol/Paracetamol to Advil/Ibuprofen.

    • by Chaset ( 552418 )

      Coincidentally, I was just mulling over the lead thing this morning before I saw this. My pet theory/wishful thinking is that just as we saw reduction in petty crime rate as the "leaded generation" moved out from that age group (teens-30), we will see reduction in "big" crime as the leaded generation moves out of positions of power and influence. Most politicians and business leaders of influence are 50-70 range. It's possible that even at levels that don't cause a measurable decrease in IQ, lead may aff

    • by Udom ( 978789 )
      "believed to be caused by a buildup of plaques and tangles in the brain", but on autopsy the brains of lots of people who had dementia show no such plaque, while lots who had no sign of dementia did have plaque. The focus on a physical cause suits the disease biases of doctors and the financial interests of big drug companies. But there are other models. Seniors are excluded from their families and stripped of any productive activity. They then lose track because keeping track no longer matters.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    As the main modifiable risk factor, it's almost certain that cigarette smoking factors in there.

    • My guess is its more to do with reduced dietary sugar intake across the board. Studies showing statistical correlations between dementia and high-sugar diets have previously been reported on here on Slashdot.

  • Tangles in the brain? They make it sound like the brain is just made up of several million coat hangers!
    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      No, it's a series of tubes.

    • by xtsigs ( 2236840 )

      They make it sound like the brain is just made up of several million coat hangers!

      The real problem is that when you brain tries to throw them out, they come back as safety pins (find and read Hugo Awarded short story Or All the Sea with Oysters by Avram Davidson).

    • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

      Tangles in the brain? They make it sound like the brain is just made up of several million coat hangers!

      Nope, it's made up of long strings of used Christmas lights.

  • He's so out of touch with trends, he even loses his mind when it's going out of style.

  • Crazy Trump (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Trump needs to release his medical reports. He is over 70 years old. He probably has Alzheimer's and a shitload of dementia.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Alzheimer's disease, which is believed to be caused by a buildup of plaques and tangles in the brain, is the most common type of dementia.

    Is the most common type of NON VASCULAR dementia. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is by far the most common cause of dementia.

  • by Mysund ( 60792 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2016 @06:01AM (#53337745)

    First thing that jump into my mind: Can this be caused by the removal of lead from petrol/gasoline and other consumer products?

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Funny - first thing that jumps to MY mind is "bogus study/experimental error/statistical outlier". Critical thinking ftw.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The first thing that jumps to my mind is this:

        figures released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association show that deaths from the disease increased by 68 percent between 2000 and 2010.

        "It's an epidemic, it's on the rise, and currently [there is] no way to delay it, prevent it or cure it," says Maria Carrillo, a neuroscientist with the Alzheimer's Association. More than 5 million people in the U.S. have the disease, she says, and that number could reach nearly 14 million by 2050. -- NPR 2013 [npr.org]

        So the studies cover comparable time spans and come to widely diverging results -- unless there is some unknown factor that has made Alzheimer's less detectable and more lethal. Before that is explained I would not draw any conclusions.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Alzheimer's is a subset of dementia. The study in the article also looked at a particular age cohort, whereas for the study from the Alzheimer's Association you are seeing figures from all ages for a subset of conditions referenced in the article.

          The two studies are not necessarily at odds with each other.

      • Funny - first thing that jumps to MY mind is "bogus study/experimental error/statistical outlier". Critical thinking ftw.

        What kind of person naturally assumes that the result of any scientific study is a fault of the study? Is god telling you the answer is wrong?

  • Hard to say what this means, just a jump in deaths over a certain segment could be behind it, to say nothing of the fact that data capture must be a bitch. My wife's family is dealing with this right now and just getting all of them to acknowledge it's actually happening seems impossible, let alone the person with the affliction. Everyone's in denial, and we are told this happens in almost every case. Saliva samples aside, how do you get solid data?

    • On the other hand, the results of the previous studies they're comparing this new one to had the same issues.

      So what's changed significantly in the past 16 years? Or, more likely, the couple of decades before the last 16 years?

      Other than no leaded gas, lower pollution levels overall, warmer climate, I mean....

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2016 @10:30AM (#53338643) Homepage Journal

      Well, getting really good public health data is hard, because it's expensive to do it in a way that gives you something you can go on, as opposed to something to purely speculate about. For all the limitations of something like the Framingham Heart Study or the Nurses Health Study, they're probably the gold standard when it comes to picking out statistical correlations that might be worth further investigation.

      I think, though, if there were an increase in the death rate of dementia patients that was big enough to explain at 24% decline in twelve years we'd probably know it. Either the sampling was wildly biased at one or both ends of that period, or there's something going on. Management of diabetes and high blood pressure is definitely a plausible cause for such a decline because they're both correlated to vascular dementia and stroke.

      On a personal note I know what you're going through. My Mom was really intelligent woman, but she had both hypertension and diabetes. The last ten years of her life she had progressive dementia, and it every time I saw her it was like a little bit more of her had slipped away. It encouraged me to get my act together -- without my mind I don't have much to live for, certainly not my looks. I dropped my blood pressure over several years 128/86 to 105/64 through diet and exercise.

  • I've got have a mind to agree.
  • I always find it such an exaggerated way of presenting statistics to use a percentage of a percentage, the number gives no context (percentage of what), and the smaller the group of people the more the number is likely to fluctuate wildly.

    Whats wrong with a absolute percentage? "No. of people with dementia dropped by 2.8% between 2000 and 2012"... is it just not sensationalist enough? Otherwise when dementia only affects a handful of people it will be improving worsening by 9927648% every year! what a usefu

    • I always find it such an exaggerated way of presenting statistics to use a percentage of a percentage, the number gives no context (percentage of what), and the smaller the group of people the more the number is likely to fluctuate wildly.

      I'd go further. It needs to not only indicate WHAT it is a percentage of but also what the confidence interval is for the result and what the population size was and its composition and the calculation methodology. Statistics that do not include the error bars should be considered only with great skepticism. Statistics which do not disclose the calculation methodology doubly so.

      Whats wrong with a absolute percentage? "No. of people with dementia dropped by 2.8% between 2000 and 2012"

      What specifically do you mean by "absolute percentage"? When people talk about changes they generally talk about absolute value

    • Clarity is what's important, and the notion of absolute percentage isn't necessarily universal.

      The statement "No. of people with dementia dropped by 2.8% between 2000 and 2012" is wrong given a standard interpretation of the base of a percentage. In an average population, where 4 people once would have gotten dementia, now only 3 will. That is absolutely a drop of ~25%. Your statement would imply that out of a 100 people who would gotten dementia, now only ~97 will, which understates the effect.

      Again thoug

    • I always find it such an exaggerated way of presenting statistics to use a percentage of a percentage, the number gives no context (percentage of what), and the smaller the group of people the more the number is likely to fluctuate wildly.

      Of course there's context. The context is within the group of people directly affected. It also provides some very clear information about the outcomes of prevention programs which are completely lost when you specify only absolute numbers.

      Say we eliminated eliminated dementia tomorrow, what would be more useful to you? To know that dementia rates have dropped by 100% from last year to this year? Or that the dementia rate fell by 8.8% across the population from last year to this year?

      Don't fear fluctuating

  • It's probably because the baby boomers are just hitting 65+, and so the average person over 65 in 2012 is younger than the average person over 65 in 2000.
    • Interesting observation. After skimming the JAMA article I am not able to tell whether that difference is significant, but here are two quotes you might find interesting:

      "The study cohorts had an average age of 75.0 years (95% CI, 74.8-75.2 years) in 2000 and 74.8 years (95% CI, 74.5-75.1 years) in 2012"

      "Compared with the 2000 cohort, the 2012 cohort had a significantly larger proportion of those who were 85 years or older..."

  • i wonder if social media and the ubiquity of the internet has anything to do with it. i suspect it's more healthy for the brain to be actively engaged with friends and family, even virtually, and reading about current events (even if it's hateful clickbait) than sitting around having very little mental or emotional engagement knitting doilies or whatever.

  • but I am not a neurologist. I started medical training (med school in 2004) an dI'm in practice today. I have long been suspicious that most dementias that we are calling "Alzheimer's" dementia are really multi-infarct/vascular dementia from mini-stroke/strokes/atherosclerosis etc.... Remember the "gold standard" in a practical sense to diagnose Alzheimer's demential is post-mortem brain pathology examination.
  • Of course general dementia has declined.

    We've been concentrating it all in our politicians.

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