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One-Third of Those Over 65 Have Dementia When They Die

Incidence ranges from 6 percent in those aged 65 to 69 to 58 percent in those 95 and older

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Thirty percent of people aged 65 and older in England and Wales have dementia before death, researchers report in the October issue of PLoS-Medicine.

Carol Brayne, M.D., of Cambridge University in the U.K., and colleagues analyzed the incidence of dementia and severe cognitive impairment in a 10-year study of people aged 65 and older in England and Wales.

The researchers found that 30 percent of participants had dementia at death. Dementia cases increased from 6 percent of those dying between the ages of 65 and 69 to 58 percent of those who died at 95 and older. The pattern was comparable for cognitive impairment.

Better-educated, more-privileged participants exhibited only slightly less dementia and impaired mental function before death than others, the researchers found.

"Reducing risk for dementia at a given age will lead to further extension of life, thus cumulative risk (even in populations at lower risk for given ages) remains high," the authors write. "Aging of populations is likely to result in an increase in the number of people dying with dementia and severe cognitive impairment even in the presence of preventative programs."

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