Most deprived are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia

22 May 2018 | News

Older adults in England with fewer financial resources are more likely to develop dementia, according to new research.

Researchers from University College London analysed data from 6,220 people born between 1902 and 1943 and found that the 20 per cent who were most deprived were 50 per cent more likely to develop dementia than the 20 per cent least deprived.

The study, ‘Individual and Area-Based Socioeconomic Factors Associated With Dementia Incidence in England’ was published this month in JAMA Psychiatry.

The research, involving a 12-Year follow-up on the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, is the first of its kind to determine which socioeconomic factors influence dementia. The study found limited wealth in late life is associated with increased risk of dementia and that the effect is independent of education.

Lead author, Dorina Cadar of UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health said, “Our findings demonstrate that socioeconomic determinants influence dementia incidence, suggesting a higher risk for individuals with fewer financial resources.”

Cadar added, “We hope our findings help inform public health strategies for dementia prevention [by] evidencing why socioeconomic gaps should be targeted to reduce health disparities and enhance engagement in socio-cultural activities.”

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing is a prospective cohort study that is representative of the English population. Two independent groups were derived using a median split (born between 1902-1925 and 1926-1943) to investigate if there were differences over time.

The authors found that socioeconomic inequalities were more prominent for individuals born from 1926 onwards, than in those born earlier in the 20th century.

The study confirms the risk of dementia is reduced among well-off older people compared with those who have fewer economic resources, said Andrew Steptoe of UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health. “Many factors could be involved. Differences in healthy lifestyle and medical risk factors are relevant. It may also be that better off people have greater social and cultural opportunities that allow them to remain actively engaged with the world,” he said.


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