elder with oxygen maskThe recent decline in the share of older adults with dementia in the United States is good news for families and health care providers. However, researchers question whether dementia prevalence can continue to decline in tandem with higher rates of obesity and diabetes, which are both cardiovascular risk factors for certain types of dementia.

Researchers are also investigating potential links between dementia and the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. One study found that people with dementia had a higher risk of getting COVID-19 and experienced more severe symptoms compared with those without dementia. However, more research is needed to understand how COVID-19 affects people with dementia and might contribute to dementia risk.

Regardless of future trends in dementia prevalence, rapid population aging in the United States will contribute to an increase in the number of people living with dementia in the coming decades. Policymakers can prepare for this increase by making paid care more affordable and implementing policies that support the emerging roles of siblings, friends, cohabiting partners, and more distant relatives as caregivers.

Crucial to the overall health of the U.S. older population are policies that address growing disparities in dementia risk by ensuring that people of every race/ethnicity, and education and income level have equitable access to the resources and environments that contribute to healthy cognitive function.

Read the full article with references: Fact Sheet: U.S. Dementia Trends from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), October 2021.