Oct 27, 2022
New study finds 1 in 10 American seniors suffer from dementia Transcript
A new study shows that 1 in 10 Americans age 65 and over suffer from dementia, while 22% deal with mild cognitive impairment. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1 (00:06):
The authors of a new dementia study say that their work is the first nationally representative study of cognitive impairments in more than two decades.
Speaker 2 (00:14):
That’s right. Researchers at the University of Michigan observed roughly 3,500 people throughout the United States. The study found that 10% of Americans over 65 suffer from dementia, while 22% experience mild cognitive impairment. For more on all this, let’s bring in the study’s lead author, Dr. Jennifer Manley. She’s a professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University. Dr. Manly, welcome. It’s so great to have you with us. This is an issue that so many American families are confronted with, so it’s so great that you and your team are studying this. If you would, can you begin by telling us about the distinction between dementia and mild cognitive decline?
Dr. Jennifer Manly (00:58):
Sure. Both of those classifications involve cognitive impairment. The dementia classification is more severe. People with dementia not only have problems in memory, in executive function and language, but they may also have problems with everyday function, so ability to take care of themselves, remember appointments, find their way around. People with mild cognitive impairment don’t have those problems with everyday functioning, but they have the first signs of cognitive impairment.
Speaker 1 (01:50):
Dr. Manly, it’s so interesting how widespread this problem is, and yet you wrote in your study that past dementia research has mostly just focused on college educated, white people. I want to know how, in doing a more representative study of the population, what you were able to learn not only about race racial disparities, which I want to know about, but also what more it empowers us to do when it comes to fighting this problem that’s so pervasive.
Dr. Jennifer Manly (02:24):
Right. Right. Well, we did find that older adults that are racialized as black in the study and Hispanic, were more likely to develop cognitive impairment. We know that these inequalities in health, dementia is not an exception, are because of historical and current structural racism and income inequality. These factors restrict access to all of the exposures that benefit brain health and then increases exposure to harm. The implications here are really about how we can repair and invest in communities that don’t have as much access to healthcare, to education, and to good jobs and good housing. These are the factors that really drive these inequalities in health.
Speaker 1 (03:32):
So glad that you are working on this problem, because we know how much it affects …
Speaker 2 (03:35):
So many people. Of course, it’s not just the patient, it’s the entire family that’s affected when someone has dementia or this kind of cognitive decline.
Speaker 1 (03:44):
How egregious to just focus on one subgroup. I’m so glad that you’ve joined us. Dr. Jennifer Manly, thank you.
Dr. Jennifer Manly (03:52):