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Australian dementia rates have dropped

Monday, April 29th, 2019

Dementia rates among older Australians accessing home or long-term care services are declining according to a large-scale evaluation undertaken by the SAHMRI-based Registry of Older South Australians.

Using the largest sample of people accessing aged care services in Australia, the study examined two cohorts; (i) people who accessed long-term aged care, such as nursing homes, between 2008 and 2014, and (ii) people who accessed care services within their own home  between 2005 and 2014.

For the 348,311 older people who accessed long-term care, dementia rates fell from 50 to 47 percent.  For the 188,846 older people accessing home care for the first time, the prevalence of dementia fell from 26 to 21 percent.  This drop occurred alongside a drop in heart disease in long-term care, and despite an increase in risk factors for dementia, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, malnutrition, obesity, depression, and head injury.

The decline in dementia rates could be due to an increase in people dying with dementia before they access aged care services, but the stable mortality rates for people with dementia accessing long-term care in the study suggest that this explanation is less likely.  Also, the dataset only speaks to Australians with a diagnosis of dementia, and does not capture the many Australians who can develop the condition without formal recognition. The estimates of dementia in the long-term care cohort are likely to be higher than the general population, and the estimates for the home care cohort are more likely to be closer to that of the general population. A drop in dementia rates has also been reported in the United States and United Kingdom and in Sweden and Spain for men only.

The promising findings could be the result of national measures to encourage healthier lifestyle choices, in that improvements in our physical health might also improve our cognitive health.  However, the findings come with caution.  Whilst some dementia risk factors such as smoking are on the decline, obesity and diabetes are on the rise in Australia, thus the decline in dementia might not continue.

This post is being shared from the National Centre for Biotechnology Information website – to read this and more articles in their original source click the link below:

The University of Sydney

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