Results of a recent study conducted by researchers from the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio and published in a special supplement to the Journal of Gerontology suggest the overall impact of dementia may be compressing – that is, people are developing dementia later in life and are living with cognitive problems for a shorter amount of time.
Using data from the Framingham Heart Study, the researchers looked at dementia patterns during four different time periods within a span of 30 years. They discovered that overall, the average age of dementia onset has increased and the average length of time living with a dementia diagnosis has decreased.
The researchers speculated this trend may be related to advancements in stroke care – as stroke is a primary risk factor for dementia – but determined improvements in stroke prevention and treatment do not fully explain the study results. According to Sudha Seshadri, M.D., lead author of the study, other factors may include widespread vaccination to prevent infection and disease, reduced levels of lead and other pollutants in the environment, and better nutrition.