WEDNESDAY, Nov. 9, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The prevalence of dementia declined among U.S. older adults, dropping nearly one-third from 2000 to 2016, according to a study published online Nov. 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Peter Hudomiet, Ph.D., from RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and colleagues estimated the prevalence of dementia in the United States from 2000 to 2016 by age, sex, race and ethnicity, education, and a measure of lifetime earnings. The analysis included data on 21,442 individuals (aged 65 years and older) participating in the Health and Retirement Study.

The researchers found that the age-adjusted prevalence of dementia decreased from 12.2 percent in 2000 to 8.5 percent in 2016, a statistically significant decline of 30.1 percent. While women remain more likely to live with dementia, the sex difference narrowed. Among men, there was a reduction in inequalities across education, earnings, and racial and ethnic groups. These inequalities declined in women, too, although less strongly. There was a substantial increase observed in the level of education of participants over time, and this compositional change could explain about 40 percent of the reduction in dementia prevalence among men and 20 percent among women. Compositional changes in the population by age, race and ethnicity, and cardiovascular risk factors had less impact.

“Closing the education gap across racial and ethnic groups may be a powerful tool to reduce health inequalities in general and dementia inequalities in particular, an important public health policy goal,” Hudomiet said in a statement.

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