Dementia rates among Australian seniors are decreasing, suggesting that measures to improve the physical health of older people may also have positive cognitive effects.
However, South Australian researchers warn that the reduction is likely to be short-lived with dementia rates expected to rise again with population aging.
The study of 348,311 elderly people who received home care services found that the prevalence of dementia dropped from 26% in 2005 to 21% in 2014.
For 188,846 elderly people who started long-term care, the dementia rate dropped from 50% in 2008 to 47% in 2014.
The research, the first in Australia to investigate the prevalence of dementia, was published today in Magazines of Gerontology: series A.
The lead author of the project was Dr. Stephanie Harrison, a researcher at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
He said the positive results could be the result of national public health measures to improve the general health of the population.
"The research constantly shows that there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of dementia," said Dr. Harrison.
"By improving our physical health, we could also improve our cognitive health.
"Initiatives to improve factors such as smoking could help, but we must also consider that some risk factors for dementia, such as obesity rates in middle age, are increasing in Australia.
"There is likely to be a combination of factors that influence dementia prevalence, so there is probably still room for improvement."
Although there has been a decline in recent years, dementia rates and the number of people accessing elderly care in the coming years should increase with the aging of the population.
There are more than 436,000 Australians living with dementia. This data is expected to rise to over 589,000 people by 2028 and over 1 million people by 2058.
"The results are consistent with other studies that report a decline in the prevalence of dementia in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom," said Dr. Harrison.
"But it may be necessary to reassess current estimates because we should consider that the prevalence of dementia in Australia may change."
Dementia describes a number of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for about two-thirds of cases. It causes a gradual decline in cognitive abilities, often starting from memory loss.
South Australia, which has the oldest population of any state on the continental Australia, has positioned itself as a global leader in the emerging "old aging" industry for several years.
The Global Modern Aging Center in Adelaide was established last year to enable people, businesses, researchers and governments to work together to seize the opportunities offered by modern aging.
The center includes a living laboratory called LifeLab, an experimentation and innovation facility that allows people aged 60 and over to co-design products and services with businesses in an environment as close as possible to real life.
Gender differences in dementia have revealed
Stephanie L Harrison et al. Trends in the prevalence of dementia for people accessing aged care services in Australia, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A (2019). DOI: 10.1093 / gerona / glz032
University of Adelaide
Dementia rates fall in Australia before the expected increase (2019, March 15)
recovered on 15 March 2019
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