Higher Education May Combat Dementia, Study Finds
Dementia and frailty are often closely linked in older people, demanding complex care. Partly due to that complexity, predicting the future healthcare needs of different groups of patients can be difficult. One of the ways to do this with some accuracy is with the help of microsimulation modeling, which is exactly what was used in a study that examined how the chances of developing dementia change as people get older.
The study was conducted in Japan. In 2021, some 29.2% of Japanese were older than 65, and about 3.5 million had dementia. Scientists predict that as the average age of the general population increases, so will the rates of dementia and frailty. Of course, recent healthcare statistics show that accurate predictions about the future impact of dementia should help policymakers improve healthcare for seniors.
The research team’s goal was to use a microsimulation model to forecast the potential changes in frailty and dementia rates in older people by 2043. They took note of the participants’ age, sex, level of education, and health indicators. The results suggest that by 2043, the life span of both women and men is likely to increase. In addition, the duration of the disease is expected to go down.
The researchers also discovered that the rates of frailty are likely to increase in women and men. Furthermore, it was found that the chances of suffering from dementia are affected by age, gender, and educational achievements. In line with that, by 2043, some 28.7% of females older than 75 who did not attend high school are expected to develop dementia and become frail.
On the other hand, the researchers predict that only a small percentage (6.5%) of college-educated females older than 75 years will become frail. According to the study’s authors, education may significantly reduce the likelihood of developing dementia.
Researchers assume that the development of dementia may be avoided in about a third of the cases by taking into account several risk factors, such as below-average education level, high blood pressure, hearing disorders, tobacco use, depression, lack of physical exercise, lack of social contacts, heavy drinking, air pollution, etc.
The research team concluded that public healthcare should find a way to address sex and educational disparities in order to decrease the rates of dementia and frailty. That being said, the model used for the study was incapable of accounting for different behavioral risk factors like diet and exercise, so more research is still needed.