Dementia rates fell 30% over 16 years — working and education may deserve credit

Researchers from RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank, found dementia rates dropped by 30.1 percent among individuals 65 and older over a 16-year period.

The study, published Nov. 7 in PNAS, analyzed data between 2000 and 2016 and sorted it by age, gender, race and ethnicity, education and lifetime earnings. Overall, dementia prevalence among men dropped by 40 percent, while it went down by 20 percent for women.

Three other findings:

  1. Dementia prevalence in non-Hispanic Black men dropped from 17.2 percent in 2000 to 9.9 percent in 2016..

  2. Researchers found an increase in education among participants with college-educated men increasing from 21.5 percent in 2000 to 33.7 percent in 2016, and college-educated women increasing from 12.3 percent to 23 percent.

  3. Researchers also found an increase in working women. Of participants ages 74 to 84, 29.5 percent worked for more than 30 years during their lifetime in 2000; that increased to 59 percent in 2016.

"There's a need for more research on the effect of employment on cognitive reserve. It's plausible that working is good for your mental cognitive abilities," study investigator Péter Hudomiet, PhD, told Medscape Medical News.

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