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Declining Dementia Rates Linked to Improved Education

Declining Dementia Rates Linked to Improved Education

A study published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine says dementia rates are declining on a national scale—and education has something to do with it.

The study, which began in 1992 and involves over 21,000 people, found that improved education rates might have something to do with the decline.

"Authors of the study found that senior citizens today are better educated than even half a generation ago. The population studied in 2012 stayed in school 13 years, while the seniors studied in 2000 had about 12 years of education, according to the study,” said

It is true that more education means a better lifestyle:

"People with more education tend to earn more money and have better access to health care. They’re less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise and less likely to be overweight. People with more education also may live in safer neighborhoods and have less stress,” the article said.

But it’s also true that people who are better educated are better equipped to handle problems associated with old age later on in life.

"It’s also possible that people with more education can better compensate for memory problems as they age, finding ways to work around their impairments, according to an accompanying editorial by Ozioma Okonkwo and Dr. Sanjay Asthana of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.”

Access to education has been linked to the decline of many health issues and has even been linked to a longer life span.

In 2012, findings published in the journal Health Affairs found that educational achievements might be a bigger predictor of a long life than genetics and family history.

The authors of the findings found that education is so powerful in determining life longevity that they called on policy makers to "implement educational enhancements at young, middle, and older ages for people of all races, to reduce the large gap in health and longevity that persists today.”

Education has also been linked to lower rates of hypertension, emphysema, diabetes, anxiety and depression.

"The magnitude of the relationship between education and health varies across conditions, but is generally large. An additional four years of education lowers five-year mortality by 1.8 percentage points; it also reduces the risk of heart disease by 2.16 percentage points, and the risk of diabetes by 1.3 percentage points,” said Les Picker of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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