Nearly half of Americans in their 50s and early 60s think they’re likely to develop dementia as they grow older, but only 5% of them have actually talked with a doctor about what they could do to reduce their risk, a new study finds.
Meanwhile, a third or more say they’re trying to stave off dementia by taking supplements or doing crossword puzzles – despite the lack of proof that such tactics work.
The new findings suggest a need for better counseling for middle-aged Americans about the steps they can take to keep their brains healthy as they age.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to work on potential dementia-preventing medications. But an over-estimation of future dementia risk by individuals may lead to costly over-use of such products, the researchers warn.
The new results appear in a research letter in the new edition of JAMA Neurology, and a presentation at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual meeting.
Both are by members of a team from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation who analyzed data from a nationally representative poll of 1,019 adults between the ages of 50 and 64.
Donovan Maust, M.D., M.S., a geriatric psychiatrist specializing in dementia-related care and lead author of the JAMA Neurology letter, notes that even among the oldest Americans, the risk of dementia is lower than one in three people over age 85.
Risk starts rising around age 65, and is higher among people of Latino or African-American heritage. Continue reading