First-ever studies are bringing new revelations about Alzheimer’s disease this week, as the Alzheimer’s Association hosts its 2018 International Conference in Chicago. Among them: Dementia survival time is short, regardless of the age at onset.
The association also announced on Sunday that it is establishing the first-ever Dementia Care Provider Roundtable, as a means to gather thought leaders from across the U.S. to find ways to better treat the disease.
The group — which consists of key players in the skilled nursing and assisted living fields, Genesis HealthCare and HCR Manor Care among them — will meet for the first time Thursday, the last day of the five-day conference.
A few other highlights from research revealed at the conference thus far:
Survival time short, regardless of onset age
Aiming to better understand survival times of those diagnosed at a relatively young age, Amsterdam researchers poured over data for some 4,500 early-onset dementia patients in one memory clinic. They found that median survival time, across all age groups, was six years, hardly different from those older than 65.
“These findings suggest that, despite all efforts and despite being younger and perhaps physically ‘healthier’ than older people, survival time in people with young-onset dementia has not improved since 2000,” said Hanneke Rhodius-Meester, M.D., Ph.D., of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.
Dementia prevalence in gay population
Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco announced this week that the dementia rate of lesbian, gay and bisexual older adults was about 7.4%, compared to about 10% for the general population, according to study results. It was the first dementia prevalence data from a large population of LGB older adults and examined data from some 3,700 such individuals over age 60.
Further research is needed, investigators said, to better understand the intersection between Alzheimer’s and sexual orientation.
“Our findings highlight the need for culturally competent healthcare and practice for older sexual minorities at risk for, or currently living with, Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. There are also important implications for meeting the long-term care services and caregiving needs of this community,” study author Jason Flatt, Ph.D., with USC-SF, said in the announcement.
Prevalence increases with age, even for ‘oldest of old’
Finally, yet another study, of dementia data from 11 countries tied to more than 4,100 ages 95-110 found that prevalence of the disease increased with age in all societies.
Meanwhile, the risk for dementia and cognitive impairment varied “significantly” from country to country, “suggesting cultural and lifestyle factors play a role in remaining physically and cognitively health as we age.” Those with higher levels of education, for one, expressed a lower prevalence of dementia than those with fewer years of education.
“This is the first study to define the global prevalence of dementia in this advanced age group using a set of common diagnostic criteria,” noted Yvonne Leung, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow with the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, University of New South Wales in Sydney. “These data, and this type of research, may help identify protective factors to reduce the risk of dementia, and provide insights into longevity and brain health.”