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1 In 10 Americans Over 65 Years Old Have Dementia, New Study Finds

The baby boom generation majorly suffers from cognitive impairment, while 1 in 10 older adults suffer from dementia, finds study of cognitive impairment survey

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The Nationally Representative Study of Cognitive Impairment conducted for the first time in 20 years says that 1 in 10 Americans over 65 years have Dementia. Another 22% have signs of mild cognitive impairment, the first stage before slipping into senility. The National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration sponsored this long-term US study. The Harmonised Cognitive Assessment Protocol Project was conducted in 2016-17 by Columbia University and the University of Michigan. The full report was published on Monday in the JAMA Network journal. The results also suggest that the symptoms were similar across different sexes but varied across race, education and ethnicity.

Rise in Dementia directly proportional to rise in longevity

In the Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP) Project, 3496 Americans were assessed in a nationally representative cross-sectional study. Nationally representative data was necessary to accurately examine the costs, causes and outcomes associated with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) and Dementia. Each candidate took in-depth interviews and neuro-psychological tests. The first-hand data thus collected was used to draw algorithms to diagnose Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia. 

Jennifer J. Manly,  professor of neuropsychology at the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain Columbia University said in a statement, "Dementia research in general has largely focused on college-educated people who are racialized as white. 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". Manly added, "With increasing longevity and the ageing of the Baby Boom generation, cognitive impairment is projected to increase significantly over the next few decades, affecting individuals, families, and programs that provide care and services for people with dementia". It is expected that the economic burden of Dementia, including unpaid family caregiving, will be 257 Billion Dollars in the US and 800 Billion Dollars worldwide.

Disparities among races

15% of self-identified Blacks suffered from Dementia, while 22% had MCI. 28% of self-identified Hispanics suffered from Mild Cognitive Impairment, while the rates of Dementia were lower, at 10%. For the Whites, 9% suffered from Dementia and 21% suffered from MCI. Education posed as a major criterion in the rate of occurrence of Dementia and MCI. Subjects who secured a college degree had Dementia, in contrast to 13% of those who never received a high school diploma. 21% of people who were 65 and above and had college degrees suffered from Dementia, compared to 30% of those who had less than a high school degree. Age, too, played a major role in this case. Only 3% of people aged between 65-69 years suffered from Dementia, compared to 30% of those who were 90 years or older.