Dementia is a common concern for those over 60, and for their loved ones and caregivers. Unfortunately, the number of dementia cases in the US is set to possibly triple by 2050, according to new data presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July. But why? Experts point to the following three trends.
The population is aging. By 2050, 16 percent of the world’s population will be over the age of 65, up from just 8 percent in 2010. As the population ages, so will many age-related health conditions such as dementia.
Rates of obesity, unhealthy habits, and related chronic diseases continue to skyrocket. Studies have pointed toward a number of risk factors for dementia, including obesity, related chronic diseases, high blood sugar, and even smoking. As those factors increase in prevalence, dementia is expected to follow.
More and more younger patients are being diagnosed with dementia. Advanced age is the single factor that is most correlated with dementia. However, doctors are seeing increasing numbers of patients under 65 who are being diagnosed with the disorder. About 350,000 younger-age dementia cases are identified each year. Cardiovascular disease is one major predictor of early-onset dementia.
While the predicted tripling of dementia cases is alarming from a public health standpoint, the good news is that many of the contributing factors are within your control. Exercise regularly, stop smoking, and eat a healthy diet to promote better physical and mental health. If you’re at risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood sugar, or weight-related diseases, talk to your doctor about the best way to reduce your risks of those conditions as well as dementia.
And of course, if you suspect a problem in yourself, your spouse, or another loved one, always seek a proper evaluation and diagnosis as soon as possible. Dementia can be much better managed when identified and treated earlier in its progression.