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Can Dementia Be Prevented?

Pfeifer, Gail MA, RN, news director

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: November 2017 - Volume 117 - Issue 11 - p 15
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000526734.90904.0d
In the News

A Lancet commission makes the case for prevention and symptom treatment.

Gail Pfeifer, MA, RN, news director

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Figure.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million U.S. adults have Alzheimer's disease, and that figure could increase to 16 million by 2050. The situation is not unique to the United States; a worldwide estimate puts the number of people living with dementia, including its most prevalent form, Alzheimer's disease, at 50 million in 2017. The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care conducted a comprehensive review of potentially modifiable risk factors for the development of dementia and posits that efforts to address these risk factors could reduce the number of new cases—estimated to be 9.9 million annually—over time.

Prevention measures recommended by the authors include treating hypertension; increasing childhood education; exercise; social engagement; and improving management of hearing loss, depression, and obesity. The commission also highlighted the importance of providing support and training for family members who provide most of the care for people with dementia and, because of these difficult responsibilities, are prone to depression.

The authors conclude that teaching people about the disease is not enough; effective and widely available interventions must be implemented by health care systems and by societies in order to fully address the problem. Read the full report online (published on July 19) in the Lancet.—Gail Pfeifer, MA, RN, news director

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REFERENCE

Livingston G, et al. Lancet 2017 Jul 19 [Epub ahead of print].
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