Dementia levels ‘are stabilising’

The number of people living with dementia is levelling off in parts of western Europe, a report says. The Cambridge University study shows the proportion of elderly people with the condition in the UK has fallen, contrary to predictions that cases would soar. Improvements in health and education might be protecting people from the disease.
Charities warned there was no guarantee the improvements would continue. The report, in the Lancet medical journal, analysed twinned dementia studies that were conducted in the same way, but decades apart. Data from five studies from the Netherlands, UK, Spain and Sweden showed that the proportion of people with the condition had stabilised over the periods covered by the studies – which ranged from nearly 20 years to almost 30. But in the UK and among Spanish men, it had fallen.
In the UK, the data from 1991 suggested that 8% of over-65s would have dementia in 2011, yet the team in Cambridge said the figure was in fact 6%. It means there are around 670,000 over-65s with the condition rather than the 810,000 figure regularly cited.
An ageing population should have led to more people living with dementia. However, lead researcher Prof Carol Brayne said the expected rise "had not occurred". She told the BBC News website: "Effectively it has stabilised rather than gone up. "The age-specific prevalence has gone down so even though the population has got older, the number [of patients with dementia] has stayed the same."