Here's some really really good news about Alzheimer's and other forms of Dementia!

by DavalosMcCormack on February 27, 2008

It seems to be on the decline! Get up everyone who is over 50, run around in circles and yell hallelujah! How did they cure it? Well, they didn’t. How do we know it’s on the decline? Dr. Kenneth Langa and Dr. Allison Rosen from the University of Michigan Medical School conducted a study involving 11,000 people aged 70 and over, their results were published in the online journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia. You probably missed that issue because the headline read: “Trends in the prevalence and mortality of cognitive impairment in the United States: Is there evidence of a compression of cognitive morbidity? “ See, I didn’t get that either, until I read “Memory and Thinking Problems Decline Among Older Americans” an article published in Medical News Today, but I wouldn’t have seen that either unless I read the New York Times ‘Well’ column entitled “Dementia Risk may be dropping”, that’s when I really believed it.

So I just had to tell you all about it. Now you can read it and delight in the fact that since the original study was done in 1993, funded by the National Institute on Aging, a lot has changed. 12.2% of the folks 70 and older in that original study had some form of cognitive impairment, which is a range of mental conditions including memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In the latest study of people in the same age range only 8.7% had the same problems. That translates into a reduction of impairment for hundreds of thousands of older Americans. Yay, we win!

But why is that you ask? Well, medical care has something to do with it. We have better drugs to fight high blood pressure and cholesterol and anything that reduces damage to the heart reduces damage to the brain which in turn reduces the risk of dementia. Also fewer people smoke and that helps too. And we are more aware of health issues that effect brain function and that means we are less likely to do things that put us at risk.

The study found that some people had an extra advantage. For instance, it found that the more educated and the wealthier you were, the less likely to experience cognitive problems. However, Dr. Langa was careful not to jump to conclusions, he said, brain health among older American seems to have improved, and that education and wealth may be a factor but we also know that cardiovascular health has a close link to brain health, and it may be that better educated and richer folk can take better care of themselves, so they are less likely to have heart problems and as a result are less likely to have brain problems.

Here’s the bottom line. We don’t know absolutely what’s going on, but the medical community is coming up with better advice and better preventative measures.

In addition there are things you can do to help yourself. You can use you brain, train it to do new and exciting things like puzzles, learning languages, mind games, and what else? Everybody all together now “Make sure you exercise! Get that heart pumping and the blood flowing to the brain.

The good doctors also said, “Gains made in the 1990’s and early 2000s could be offset by the potential damage of a rising type 2 diabetes epidemic among the elderly, and the unhealthy life style and eating habits of the young and middle aged Americans”

So think about it…walk, run, play and stay away from that drive-thru! Or as the study so succinctly said:

“Conclusions: These findings support the hypothesis of a compression of cognitive morbidity between 1993 and 2004, with fewer older Americans reaching a threshold of significant cognitive impairment and a more rapid decline to death among those who did.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

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