Cases of dementia are on the rise – why?

Why are there more and more diagnoses of dementia? Can we do something not to contribute to this gradient? In this article we tell you!

Cases of dementia are on the rise - why?

Last update: November 10, 2022

In Italy, the average life expectancy for men is 79.6 years and for women 85.1 years. We know that as a country’s life expectancy increases, its population ages more, which doesn’t mean it necessarily ages better. Why are cases of dementia on the rise? The age it is a key factor, but it is not the only one.

In 2015, there were 46.8 million people with dementia in the world and by 2050 there will be 135 million people. Dementia is considered one of the leading causes of disability and mortality in the world: in 2016 it was the fifth leading cause of death in the world.

“Furthermore, dementia represents a cost of 15,000 million euros in Spain”.


The most common dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

What is dementia?

Dementias are among the so-called neurocognitive disorders. The clinical entities that are part of this group are characterized by producing a deterioration of mental abilities, of sufficient severity to affect social and professional functioning.

“Dementia is an organic mental disorder of multiple etiology that gives rise to cognitive deficits, as well as changes in the behavior of the subject, which limit the development of an autonomous and independent life”.


For theWorld Health Organization (WHO)dementias are characterized by the production of:

  • Compromise of memory: the alteration of the ability to record, store and remember information. The loss of information also refers to the family or the past.
  • The deterioration of thinking and reasoning: the flow of thoughts and ideas is reduced. Difficulties appear to pay attention to more than one stimulus or simultaneously, or to shift attention from one stimulus to another.

While the American Psychiatric Organization also requires the presence of at least one of these cognitive alterations:

  • executive dysfunction. Planning processes, sequence or abstraction deteriorate.
  • Speech disturbanceshow aphasia or the inability to communicate through speech.
  • Problems associated with movementsuch as apraxia or reduced capacity to perform motor actions despite intact motor function.
  • Perceptual disturbances. They involve failure to recognize or identify objects, despite intact sensory function.
Increased longevity is one of the contributing factors to the increase in dementia.

Factors that explain why dementia cases are on the rise

Since this is the most common dementia, we will talk about the risk factors behind Alzheimer’s disease (TO). This dementia accounts for 35% of all cases.

“The fact that famous people like Ronald Reagan, Rita Hayworth, Adolfo Suárez or Pasqual Maragall suffered from Alzheimer’s disease facilitated the revelation of a moving reality, which was first described (in 1906) in a 51-year-old woman. years, by Alois Alzheimer “.


According to various Education, several risk factors have been identified which, in themselves, do not explain the onset of the disease, but when combined they give rise to an explosive cocktail that can ignite the fuse of Alzheimer’s. Are the following:

  • The age. It is the biggest risk factor. From the age of 60, every 5 years, the risk doubles. Thus, at the age of 60, 1% of people will suffer from Alzheimer’s, while at the age of 90 28.5% will suffer from it.
  • The sex. There are two women with Alzheimer’s for each man. This can be explained why women’s life expectancy is higher. Menopause also has a lot to do with this: estrogen prevents the cell death characteristic of AD; and with the arrival of menopause this protection disappears.
  • Genetics. They highlight the role of the PPA, PSEN-1 and PSEN-2 genes in the case of early Alzheimer’s (which occurs before the age of 65). While at the end of Alzheimer’s, APOE4 stands out.

Other factors predisposing to dementia

  • Tobacco. There is some debate about the role tobacco plays in the development of Alzheimer’s, although most experts point to it as a variable that makes us more vulnerable.
  • Having relatives with Alzheimer’s. 40% of people with Alzheimer’s have relatives who have suffered from it. Having a relative who suffers from the disease increases the likelihood of suffering from it between 2 and 7 times.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. It appears that the consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. And also prevent it. Research is currently underway.

In the end..

  • Cranioencephalic trauma. What has been shown is that people who have the APOE4 gene have a lower response after trauma and a higher risk of dementia after it. Boxers are, unfortunately, the cases that most support this hypothesis.
  • Instruction. It appears to be a protective factor against AD; be careful, however, because we are not very clear on how it interacts with other variables, such as economic resources, which, in turn, often give us access to foods of better nutritional quality.
  • Diet. Consumption of antioxidants, both in the diet and through supplements, appears to play a protective role.

Having an active brain prevents the development of cognitive impairment: read, learn something new every day, solve puzzles… Keep your mind moving.

Concluding remarks

So why are cases of dementia on the rise? Although the increase in longevity is the factor that best explains the increase in dementia cases, we cannot forget that there are others, such as cardiovascular diseases, nutrition, physical and mental activity, which also have an impact. The advantage is that these are factors that we have control over.

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Cases of dementia are on the rise – why?

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