New Study on Memory Loss Not So Earth Shattering
A new study published online today in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia proves very interesting to me. Because I have vascular dementia, I am interested in anything to do with the subject. However, having been a teacher for 34 years and having lots of schooling behind me, I know the importance of looking at any study very closely. The study mentioned above is probably valid, but I wonder just how earth shattering its findings really are?
In the long run, the study's findings don't seem to be anything we didn't already know. The researchers see "the accumulated effects of better education and better cardiovascular prevention among people who were over age 70 in 2002, compared with those who were over age 70 in 1993." This, they say, is contributing to less memory loss and dementia in the elderly. The study also cites that there was a higher percentage of people graduating from high school.
My thoughts are that this might be true, but how good was the education being taught at the time? According to what I have experienced as a teacher and looking at the "No Child Left Behind" movement, education of the past was considered to be inferior. That makes me wonder whether the length of education during that decade really has any bearing on the findings at all or if it was just one area they could grab to use as an example? In addition to this, it was already common knowledge that those with higher education and IQ had more ability to maintain their lives by slowing down and/or hiding cognitive disabilities.
I applaud the efforts put forth into research on Alzheimer's and dementia. However, I wonder if we should put much stock into this particular study. Lots of other things were happening during that decade (1993-2002) which could contribute to their findings. One thing that occurred was the introduction of nicotine patches. The danger of smoking was being promoted in the public, in schools, etc. Smoking was not mentioned in the research mentioned above. Of course, there was probably less smoking going on among the more educated. Also during the decade studied was increased public awareness in personal fitness, in dietary changes, sometimes even dictated by our government.
Lastly, during that time and since, our population has continued to put on weight, leading to increased heart problems and diabetes. Both of these contribute to dementia and Alzheimer's. These problems are not limited to the lowly educated or less wealthy parts of our population. These are universal problems of all our citizens. I wonder what the results would affirm if the study extended to today? I believe their study fell short of finding any real revelations about Alzheimer's.