Is dementia becoming less common?

Published: November, 2013

The loss of memory and impaired thinking skills known as dementia may be on the decline. The proportion of people in England who developed dementia fell over the past 20 years, finds a study in The Lancet of more than 7,500 people over age 65. This is potentially good news for an aging population.

Although we can't be sure what's behind the trend, healthy brain aging with regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and an active mind may be having an effect. Higher levels of education, for example, may delay the age at which people are diagnosed with dementia. This is because leading a mentally active life increases the amount of "cognitive reserve" elder brains can draw on, like a bank account, as Alzheimer's disease and other causes of dementia start to take hold. Better treatment of diseases that attack the arteries, which tend to raise risk for dementia, might also be having an effect.

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