Between 2020 and 2025, every state across the country is expected to experience an increase in the number of people 65 and older with dementia, according to a report by the Alzheimer’s Association. In the Mountain West, Arizona and Nevada are the states most at risk, as are people of color.
The report estimates that the number of Americans with dementia will increase to a projected 7.1 million people by 2025, an increase of nearly 22% compared to 2020. Arizona, Nevada, and Vermont are the states with the highest percentage of expected cases, with over a 30% increase.
Jennifer Carson, Ph.D. and Director of the Dementia Engagement, Education and Research (DEER) Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, said that Nevada is one of the fastest aging states in the country, so it would make sense to have more dementia cases.
“People like the dry weather and the tax benefits and they retire or move to Nevada. So we do have a really large number of older adults living here. It means we’re going to have one of the highest prevalence rates of people living with dementia because age is the number one risk factor,” Carson said.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control, “dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.”
Many people think that developing a type of dementia has to do with genetics, but the truth is that it is only one of the factors, but not necessarily the most important. Eating healthy, staying active, and staying intellectually and socially stimulated can all help reduce someone’s risk of developing dementia.
In fact, a report by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care, suggested that lifestyle changes, like less exposure to air pollution, alcohol, smoking, or depression, could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases.
Carson also said that although the majority of cases of dementia in the United States are white people, people of color are more likely to be exposed to other medical and sociocultural factors that can trigger dementia, such as isolation, diabetes, less education, or obesity.
“Because Nevada is older and has greater diversity, we’re seeing greater incidents of dementia,” she mentioned.