Many of us have become familiar with dementia because we may have witnessed its effect first hand in a parent or grandparent. The condition, which is both chronic and progressive, affects about 47 million people worldwide. Millions of those individuals are right here in the U.S. and in California. Dementia affects all aspects of an individual’s life, from memory, the ability to think clearly, and the ability to live independently and perform everyday tasks. While many elderly people can initially live alone or with a spouse in the early stages of dementia, the disease usually progresses to the point of the individual requiring constant in-home care or to live in a nursing home. It is at this time that the elderly become vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
Rates of Dementia in the U.S.
As the Baby Boomer generation ages, many in the medical and public health professions worry that the rate of dementia will skyrocket. However, it looks like dementia rates in the U.S. are actually falling. A study by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, observed 21,000 U.S. adults over the age of 65 between 2000 and 2012. The study uncovered that the rate of dementia decreased 24% during this time period. It was 11.6% in 2000 and 8.8% in 2012. In 2000, the average age at diagnosis was 80.7 years and by 2012, the average age rose to 82.4 years.