Alzheimer’s Society responds as researchers report decline in the prevalence of dementia in USA

The percentage of elderly American people who are living with dementia is falling, a new study finds.

The downward trend has emerged amid a rising tide of three factors that are thought to raise dementia risk - diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Those with the most years of education had the lowest chances of developing dementia, according to the findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine by a team from the University of Michigan. 

With the largest generation in American history now entering the prime years for dementia onset, the new results add to a growing number of recent studies in the United States and other countries that suggest a downward trend in dementia prevalence.

Commenting on the research Alzheimer’s Society Head of Research Dr James Pickett said: 

'This American study reflects a trend being seen across a number of countries, including the UK, of a small reduction in the fraction of people who develop dementia at any given age. 

'These findings are encouraging as they strongly suggest that education and lifestyle factors, such as better heart health, are helping to reduce the risk of dementia. However, as people live longer and conditions like diabetes and obesity continue to rise, there’s no certainty this trend of reduction will continue. The total number of people with dementia is still set to increase, with a projected 200,000 new cases of dementia each year in the UK. 

'What is certain is that there is still a relatively small amount of research in the UK and globally that looks at risk factors. To address this issue, we urgently need to see the government invest in long-term studies that tell us how dementia is changing in the population.'

Further information

  • Risk factors for dementia