New research has suggested that experts may have been wrong when predicting the amount of people who would be diagnosed with dementia in the future.
Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study found that new rates of dementia are lower than past trends had indicated.
Teams at leading universities across the UK interviewed around 7,500 people over the age of 65 who were living in three different parts of the UK; Cambridgeshire, Nottingham and Newcastle in the 1990s. The research was then done again with a new group 20 years later, and the two sets of findings were compared.
They found that there was a 20 per cent drop in dementia cases over the past two decades and that this change has been mostly seen among men.
Researchers suggest that this change is likely due to an improvement in men's health. However, charities have urged people to not become complacent about the risk of dementia, with 200,000 new cases being diagnosed each year in the UK.
Funded by the Medical Research Council, as part of its Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (CFAS), experts from the University of Cambridge, Newcastle University, Nottingham University and the University of East Anglia came together to conduct the study.
Dr James Pickett, head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society called the research "encouraging" but said many people were still at risk of developing dementia.
Although the study shows that the rate of new cases of people with dementia in the UK has fallen, suggesting that a change in lifestyle can help to reduce the rate of dementia, there are still major factors that are putting people in danger.
With people now living longer, and the number of people with diabetes and considered obese rising, thousands are putting themselves at risk of developing dementia, and will need better information and health and social care support, Dr Pickett said.
He commented: "The study indicates two-thirds of new cases of dementia will be in women - this is in part due to the fact that women live longer, but it also appears that women are at a higher risk of developing dementia. Over the past 20 years the most significant change appears to have been a reduction in the rates of dementia amongst men."
Dr Pickett said that since the study began, there has been significant improvements in general understanding of dementia and many people are now being diagnosed at an earlier stage of the condition.
"It’s possible, therefore, that not all of these people would be identified using the methods of this study, leading to an underestimate of people with dementia,' he added.
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