This news comes from my new favorite blog, This Chair Rocks, by Ashton Applewhite. There’s a link below to read the entire article and I hope you will, but, in a nutshell, it says that dementia rates for people over 65 have fallen from 11.6% in 2000 to 8.8% in 2012. These findings come from a massive (21,000 people) study of Americans, age 65 and older, all races, classes and educational levels. It was funded by the National Institute on Aging, and published by JAMA – the Journal of the American Medical Association. In other words, this is no slouch study.
I am extra delighted with these findings because I know a lot of people who aren’t exactly happy about the fact that Americans are living longer. There’s so much bad news around, it’s hard not to be scared to death you’re going to be stuck down by Alzhemier’s or some other damned thing the minute you hit 65. This new study takes a big bite out of that misinformation. Not only are Americans living longer, but they are living longer without being hit by age related diseases.
Although it’s indisputable that dementia rates are dropping, the reason why is a mystery. Some age related problems are on the rise. For instance, the diabetes rate among people over 65 used to be 9% back in 1990. By 2012 it had risen to 21.1%. And it’s an established fact that people with diabetes have an increased risk for dementia. Still, in spite of that, Alzheimer’s rates are going down. Some researchers think it’s because people in 2012 had an average of 1 year more schooling than people in 2000. Education is known to cut the risk of developing dementia. But nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that Americans can not only be expected to live longer, but to live healthier longer.
This great news came as a total surprise to me when I read it a few weeks ago in This Chair Rocks. Actually, JAMA published the study last November so I would have thought I’d have seen it because I read the NY Times regularly and am addicted to NPR, MSNBC, CNN! But I had not heard a peep about these findings before the blog article. And so we must pause, dear friends, for another rant about Ageism.
Because, for God’s sake, Alzheimer’s (the most common form of dementia) has recently passed cancer as the disease American’s fear most. And even if this thing isn’t touching you personally, the the cost to the nation of caring for dementia patients is 212 billion dollars, which is more than the cost of care for cancer and heart disease combined. So you’d just naturally think that when the NY Times did an article about this study, it would be on the front page.
And what was on the front page that day? Three articles on Trump: being President is swell for his brand; he’s having a hard time getting his cabinet together; the alt-right is happy, happy, happy. There was also a story on the financial woes of Dallas, Texas, and a whopping huge article about street gangs in El Salvadore. No doubt, these things are important, but come on. The most feared disease is on page C-13!? And five days before Thanksgiving?!? What a lovely piece of news that would have been to infuse spirit of Thankfulness into the holiday. But if you didn’t make it to page 13-C, forget it. After the Times article, there were a smattering of stories about the findings, Forbes did an article, and CNN. Huff Post picked up the article from This Chair Rocks a week ago. But Really!? Why is this good news not on the front page of everything? Just wondering.
Still, God Bless the NY Times, and the others for at least giving us some coverage. The This Chair Rocks article (and a lot of other cool stuff) can be found at https://thischairrocks.com/2017/04/08/dementia-rates-are-falling
The New York Times article is at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/health/dementia-rates-united-states.html
This is very good news. Shout it from the rooftops, please.
Originally posted 2017-05-30 16:51:21.