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How Baby Boomers Are Beating The Dementia Epidemic

Posted in General Health 22 Sep, 2015

It wasn't long ago we were warned that baby boomers would come of age, develop dementia and put a huge strain on families and the finances of Britain. But baby boomers appear to have swerved it. What's happened? Have they invented the pill of eternal youth, otherwise known as laughing a lot?

Dementia Levels Are Stabilising

The Lancet recently released a study showing that despite the aging western European population, dementia levels are stabilising. In the over-65s, dementia levels fell from the 1990s 8.3% level to 6.5% twenty years on.

If you like big numbers, here are those results again. It was predicted that 884,000 Brits would develop dementia by now, but only 670,000 have. That means 214,000 have escaped their doom-mongered fate.

Whom Should They Thank?

People over-65 in the 1990s would have been born before WW2. Over-65ers in 2010 would have been born afterwards. Public health was not so advanced in the 1920s. Access to food, education, and living standards were vastly improved within a few decades. It could be that the publicly funded NHS led to better infant brain development.

Better Risk Factor Awareness

Risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer - such as obesity, smoking and high blood pressure - are risk factors dementia too. Education has taught us how to avoid these illnesses, and perhaps accidently affected the dementia rates too. There have been numerous public health campaigns to raise awareness of high blood pressure and cholesterol for example, which can affect vascular dementia.

Bad Statistics?

Or perhaps the stats are out. This study was Europe-wide, but only the UK and Spanish studies found reduced levels of dementia. Other countries remained stable. You'd think that all countries would produce the same results - or perhaps the Brits and Spaniards just did a better job?

A Step In The Right Direction

Bad stat theory aside, the results are encouraging. Dementia is an awful illness that destroys lives. There is no cure and it's down to patients and their families to try and manage the symptoms.

Do One, Mystic Meg

Health conscious, and perhaps lucky, baby boomers have beaten the predictions - Mystic Meg can take a holiday. The fabulously named Professor Brayne of Public Health Medicine at Cambridge Institute of Public Health (take a breath), said that the new up-to-date evidence suggests a relatively optimistic picture of possible future trends in dementia. Well quite. Perhaps it's not all doom and gloom after all.

In The Future?

Last February David Cameron announced £300 million would be ploughed into dementia research with a target of 2025 set to find the cure, but perhaps we are already on the right track. Perhaps overall better health is the key to fighting a number of illnesses currently preying on society.

That said, 670,000 people developed dementia in the UK last year. So keep a close eye on yourself and your loved ones. The early signs are hard to spot, don't just ignore symptoms but see your doctor if you suspect dementia. In the meantime - make some life changes to improve your health.

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