About 4% of US adults age 65 and older have a dementia diagnosis, survey finds


By Christy Santhosh

(Reuters) – Some 4% of U.S. adults aged 65 and older say they have been diagnosed with dementia, a rate that reached 13% for those at least 85-years old, according to a report of a national survey released on Thursday.

The report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was based on the 2022 National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The survey in 2019 added the option to report dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, to its questions on doctor-diagnosed health conditions.

The CDC said 1.7% of adults ages 65 to 74 reported a dementia diagnosis, a rate that increased with age. For those ages 75 to 84, the reported dementia rate was 5.7%

The agency conducted in-person or telephone interviews with 8,757 people age 65 and older who were asked whether they have been diagnosed with some form of dementia.

Ellen Kramarow, the report’s lead author, said dementia diagnosis estimates were in general similar from 2019 to 2022, adding that they “do not see this as a measure that is going to have large changes year to year.”

Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia, which involves the loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other cognitive abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The report accompanies the arrival of new treatments designed to slow progression of the mind-wasting disease, such as Biogen and Eisai’s Leqembi, which won U.S. approval last July. Eli Lilly’s similar treatment, donanemab, was unanimously endorsed by an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday and is widely expected to be approved.

The CDC report showed dementia diagnoses were lowest among people with college degrees and highest among people with less than a high school education.

Several studies have suggested that people with higher levels of education have larger cognitive reserves that can temporarily delay dementia symptoms.

The overall estimates are similar to other national surveys, such as the 2021 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, which estimated that nearly 3% of Medicare beneficiaries not residing in nursing homes or long-term care facilities had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.

(Reporting by Christy Santhosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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