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Nearly half of older adults think they’ll get dementia

But few discuss prevention with their physician

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 18 November 2019

Almost half of adults aged 50 to 64 believe they are likely to develop dementia, a new study shows.

This is the finding from a survey carried out by the University of Michigan. In its National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA), 1,019 respondents aged 50 to 64 were asked what risk they perceived and what potential risk-reducing measures they took.


Of the participants questioned, 48.5% said they were at least somewhat likely to develop dementia during their lifetime. The results were published in a research letter* in JAMA Neurology.

Poll respondents reported engaging in a variety of strategies to maintain or improve memory that are not evidence-based. While managing chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, could reduce dementia risk, few respondents appeared to have discussed this with their physician. Only a few participants (5.2%) had discussed potential ways to reduce dementia risk with their doctor.

“Adults in middle age may not accurately estimate their risk of developing dementia, which could lead to both overuse and underuse if preclinical dementia treatments become available. Policy and physicians should emphasise current evidence-based strategies of managing lifestyle and chronic medical conditions to reduce the risk of dementia,” concluded the authors. 


*Maust DT, Solway E, Langa KM, et al. Perception of Dementia Risk and Preventive Actions Among US Adults Aged 50 to 64 Years. JAMA Neurol. Published online November 15, 2019. DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.3946

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