Higher education may reduce risk of dementia


Researchers investigated how rates of dementia and frailty in Japan will change over time. They found that educational attainment may predict dementia risk.

The researchers concluded that public health policy should address sex and educational disparities in comorbid dementia and frailty to prepare for population aging. Japan has the oldest population in the world. In 2021, around 29.2% of its population, about 36 million people, were over 65, and an estimated 3.5 million have dementiaTrusted Source. In 2012, 3 million were estimated to have frailty.

By 2050, 16%Trusted Source of the global population will be over 65 years old, compared to just 8% in 2010. As the population ages, researchers expect corresponding increases in dementia and frailty. Foreseeing how disease burden may increase alongside population aging could help policymakers improve healthcare for the elderly. Recently, researchers created a microsimulation to predict how dementia, frailty, and life expectancy rates will change in Japan by 2043. Scott Kaiser, MD, Director of Geriatric Cognitive Health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, CA, not involved in the study, told Medical News Today:

“The simulation highlighted that […] drastic increases in dementia need not be an inevitable byproduct of an aging population.” “The simulation also highlighted deep inequities that must be addressed to prepare for an aging population,” he added. The study was published in the LancetTrusted Source. Microsimulation For the study, the researchers used a newly-developed microsimulation model to predict rates of frailty and dementia among the elderly by 2043.

They built their model from nationwide cross-sectional surveys, death records, and existing cohort studies. Their data included age, sex, educational attainment, and health indicators, including: Incidence of 11 chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer Incidence of depression Function in day-to-day life Self-reported health The researchers noted that life expectancy might increase from 23.7 years in 2016 to 24.9 years in 2043 after age 65 for women and 18.7 years to 19.9 years for men.

Over the same period, years spent with dementia are expected to decrease from 4.7 to 3.9 years in women and 2.2 to 1.4 years in men. This change, they say, may be explained as the model predicted mild cognitive impairment to begin later in life than at present. However, they also found that rates of frailty will increase from 3.7 years to 4 years among women and 1.9 to 2.1 years for men across all educational groups. They also found that age, gender, and education affect rates of frailty and dementia. They found that by 2043 28.7% of women over 75 years old who do not have a high school education will have both frailty and dementia and thus require complex care.

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