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Predicted dementia risk falls by 22% due to healthier lifestyles

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Elderly Britons are now 22% less likely to develop dementia than was expected 20 years ago, a study by Cambridge University has found.

Around 850,000 over 65s are currently affected by the condition, however this is 300,000 fewer than was predicted following a similar study in 1996. While dementia affected 8.3% of older people two decades ago, the figure has fallen to 6.5% in 2016.

The same pattern is starting to emerge across Europe, and it is thought that the change has been driven by healthier lifestyles.

Professor Carol Brayne, of Cambridge Institute of Public Health, stated: “Such reductions could be the outcomes from earlier population-level investments such as improved education and living conditions, and better prevention and treatment of vascular and chronic conditions… This evidence suggests that attention to optimum health early in life might benefit cognitive health late in life.”

“In a review of dementia occurrence in five studies in the UK, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands between 2007 and 2013… we found none that supported headlines about dramatic increases in dementia.”

Medical progress and improved dietary and nutritional education have also been suggested as possible drivers for this change.

Despite a proportionate fall, the cumulative number of people with dementia has risen as a result of an increasing population. Dr Matthew Norton, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, commented: “It’s vital that we continue to invest in research into preventions, as well as better treatments and improved diagnosis for those cases that cannot be prevented.”

Fiona Lowry, our CEO, said: “The latest figures from Cambridge University make welcome news. However, it also highlights the difficulty in identifying reliable healthcare information. At the Good Care Group, we keep our services and our highly-trained carers at the cutting-edge of care knowledge, by analysing our own records and research, and reviewing leading national studies. Our clients and their loved ones can therefore have confidence in the live-in care we provide. In particular, for dementia care, our research and that of others has shown overwhelmingly that the onset and progression of the condition can be ameliorated by empowering people to stay independent in the familiar surroundings of their own home.” 

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