Dementia is one of the biggest worries amongst those over the age of 50. In fact, according to data from 2015, by the time you reach 60, it is most likely to be your biggest fear – even more so than cancer. And there is good reason for it. It has a physical, psychological, social, and economic impact, not only on people with dementia, but also on their carers, families and society at large.
In September 2020, the WHO reported that – “Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia, with nearly 60% living in low- and middle-income countries. Every year, there are nearly 10 million new cases. The estimated proportion of the general population aged 60 and over with dementia at a given time is between 5-8%.” (source) Don’t forget that worldwide, the average age of the population is just 29.6 years (source) with about half of the world population in the working age bracket between 25 and 65
However, we now know a lot more about the condition and we should not forget to put the risk of getting dementia into perspective. It is actually decreasing in the Western world and the prospect of having a fun-filled old age is better than ever before.
The whole premise of dementia is based on the assumption that the statistical risk of getting dementia remains the same as the it was decades ago. This is very much a false assumption. And this can be proven. For instance, Dutch researchers have shown that the risk of getting dementia in old age was significantly lower after the year 2000 than before it. Swedish researchers have confirmed the same. Not only that but a large-scale population survey in the United Kingdom has seen researchers reporting a 30% drop in the risk of getting dementia over the past 20 years alone. (source)
It appears that the basics, the very things we continue to promote at the MidLyfe Project, is quite possibly the biggest factor in preventing cognitive decline such as dementia. The keys to this are; life long learning, properly treating high blood pressure, engaging in regular physical exercise and, of course, avoiding being overweight.
There’s something else too. Huge amounts of money is being spent on finding a cure for ailments such as dementia. And they are getting closer and closer to getting one.
For instance, researchers at Harvard have a viable hypothesis to explain why one patient has been highly resistant to developing Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Moreover, their work suggests a possible path to a treatment that could be beneficial for all forms of Alzheimer’s disease.
In an article published in November 2019 at the Harvard Medical School, they made some interesting comments about their work. “We are still years away from a human treatment. The next step will be to try to treat laboratory models of Alzheimer’s disease in rodents, and then clinical trials in people with the disease after that. But in my view, this paper has provided the scientific community with a clue that may lead us to an eventual cure for Alzheimer’s disease.” (source)
By January this year, a two-year study — which followed 272 people whose brain scans showed Alzheimer’s – found that patients who took the experimental drug Donanemab, had a 32 per cent slower rate of cognitive decline than those who received a placebo. (source)
As you can imagine, pharmaceutical companies are chasing a cure and the competition is fierce. “There are several new drugs either close to getting FDA approval, or in development, that promise to really change the playing field when it comes to treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Marwan Sabbagh, M.D., director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. In fact, there are at least six other drugs already in animal or human trials, several are being reviewed for FDA approval in the US. (source)
Alzheimer’s Research UK has a target of administering a cure by 2025 and in so doing are also targeting related conditions such as Parkinson’s and even mild cognitive impairment. (source) You can download a booklet about how to reduce your risk of dementia HERE.
Don’t forget about the word risk and to put that risk into perspective. About two in 100 people aged 65 to 69 years have dementia, and this figure rises to 19 in 100 for those aged 85 to 89. (source) In other words, in everyone up to the age of 90 – 70 per cent of people will not suffer from the disease. And as each decade passes, this figure not only falls because we are looking after ourselves better – but new drugs could well reduce that percentage much further.
This article was written by The MidLyfe Project
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