Study: Dementia Rate Dropping Among American Seniors

Estate planning can be a very important part of preparing for the future. There are many different things estate planning can help a person prepare for. This includes the possibility of having significant long-term care needs in the future. Skilled attorneys can advise individuals on how trusts, power of attorney documents and other estate planning devices can be used to prepare for this possibility and what sort of planning on this front would be best-suited for their situation.

One of the things that could cause a person to have significant care needs in their elderly years is dementia. So, something many may find encouraging is that recent research is indicating that the occurrence rate of this impactful condition is going down.

The study looked at interviews conducted with elderly individuals in the U.S. between 2000 and 2012. The study found that, between 2000 and 2012, the percentage of interviewed individuals who fit the criteria for dementia dropped from 11.6 percent all the way down to 8.8 percent.

What is contributing to the drop? One thing that the study hints might be a factor are trends in the education level of seniors. The study found that the average amount of education among seniors went up between 2000 and 2012. It also found that dementia likelihood tended to be lower among seniors with higher levels of education. The thought is that more education might lead to improved brain health.

However, there are many other things that could potentially influence dementia likelihood, so it remains unclear what exactly is behind the trend of decreased dementia rates that the study points to. One wonders if future studies will paint a clearer picture on this topic. Among the reasons why finding out what is behind the decreased rates could be important is that it could possibly point to methods for preventing dementia.

One thing the decreased rates don't mean though is that planning for the future when it comes to potential care needs is becoming less important. For one, while dementia rates are down, there are still many Americans who develop this condition. Also, the impacts dementia can have on those who do develop it remain large. Additionally, there are plenty of conditions beyond dementia that could lead to significant needs regarding long-term care.

Source: University of Michigan Health System, “Dementia on the downslide, especially among people with more education, study finds,” Nov. 21, 2016

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