In the first nationally representative study of cognitive impairment prevalence in more than 20 years, Columbia University researchers have found almost 10% of U.S. adults ages 65 and older have dementia, while another 22% have mild cognitive impairment. People with dementia and mild cognitive impairment are more likely to be older, have lower levels of education, and to be racialized as Black or Hispanic. Men and women have similar rates of dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
Although dementia and mild cognitive impairment are known to be common in the United States, accurate, up-to-date measures of their national prevalence were scarce.
“Such data are critical for understanding the causes, costs, and consequences of dementia and mild cognitive impairment in the United States, and for informing policies aimed at reducing their impact on patients, families, and public programs,” says Jennifer J. Manly, PhD, the study’s lead author and professor of neuropsychology in neurology at the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University.
Dementia rate 35% among people in their 90s
The study was based on data on 3,500 individuals enrolled in the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study. Between 2016 and 2017, each participant completed a comprehensive set of neuropsychological tests and in-depth interviews, which were used to develop an algorithm for diagnosing dementia or mild cognitive impairment.
Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment
Dementia is characterized by cognitive difficulties that begin in adulthood and affect a person’s ability to independently perform everyday activities. Mild cognitive impairment is a classification assigned to people who are thought to be transitioning between normal aging and dementia, but not everyone who has mild cognitive impairment will go on to develop dementia.
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