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Wealthier people are at lower risk of dementia

Getting old is no fun at all. Not only you are reaching the final stages of your life, but your quality of life degrades dramatically. This, of course, is related to poor physical health, faintness and declining cognitive ability. However, dementia does not affect all people equally. Scientists from UCL found that people with fewer financial resources are more likely to develop dementia.

People at lower socioeconomic status are at higher risk of dementia. Image credit: geralt via Wikimedia

Scientists analysed data from 6000 adults born between 1902 and 1943. They found that 20 % of these people who had the fewest financial resources were 50 % more likely to develop dementia than the wealthiest  20 %. This is quite interesting – no other research before found such a clear link between socioeconomic status and the risk of dementia. Furthermore, scientists did take into account the education, but it doesn’t seem to influence the results – people who are poorer at the later stages of life are typically at higher risk of developing dementia. These results may have tremendous implications.

Scientists and people in general are trying to minimize the risk of dementia, but results have not been great. However, identifying factors that can be associated with a higher risk of developing dementia is a good first step for combating this condition. Minimizing these risk factors will be the great challenge, but at first we have to fully understand them. Scientists found that socioeconomic inequalities were more prominent between individuals born in later years (from 1926 onwards) than between those individuals born earlier. Researchers say that these results fully confirm that the risk of dementia is greatly reduced between well-off individuals.

But why is that? Why wealthier people are facing lower risk of dementia? Well, scientists have a couple of guesses. It could be that their lifestyle is a bit more health-conscious. However, it could also be that their opportunities to engage with the world are greater. Previous studies have shown that social interactions are also reducing the risk of dementia – wealthier people could be more engaged with the world. Dr Dorina Cadar, lead author of the study, said: “We hope our findings help inform public health strategies for dementia prevention evidencing why socioeconomic gaps should be targeted to reduce health disparities and enhance engagement in socio-cultural activities that ultimately contribute to a higher mental resilience or cognitive reserve”.

Dementia is something that most of us will have to face in our lives. It is a terrible condition and one of the main causes of death. It seems like taking care of socioeconomic situation later in life could be one way of addressing it.

 

Source: UCL


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