Study Finds Racial Disparity in Risk of Dementia

JBHE, February 19, 2016

A study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and healthcare conglomerate Kaiser Permanente finds significant racial disparities in risk for dementia.

The study found that 38 percent of the Black population will likely develop dementia within 25 years after turning 65 years old. For White Americans, about 30 percent of the population over the age of 65 can be expected to develop dementia within 25 years. For Asian Americans, only 28 percent of senior citizens develop dementia.

“Even in the lowest risk groups in the study, the lifetime risk of developing dementia is high–in every racial and ethnic group, over one in four people who survive to age 65 can expect to be diagnosed with dementia in their lifetime,” said Rachel Whitmer, the principal investigator of the study and a research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. “If all individuals aged 65 or older had the same rate of dementia as Asian Americans, 190,000 cases of dementia would be prevented annually,” Whitmer added.

The study, “Inequalities in Dementia Incidence Between Six Racial and Ethnic Groups Over 14 Years,” was published on the website of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. It may be accessed here.

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