Scientists compared the data of two studies in which 16,000 elderly Americans participated, and found that people in rural areas are more likely to suffer from dementia and less intense cognitive impairment. The studies were conducted according to the same methodology in 2000 and 2010. It turned out that the number of people suffering from dementia in 10 years decreased. Scientists associate this with investments in the development of secondary education, made in the first half of the twentieth century. The study once again confirms that training helps to keep the clear mind longer.
In 2000, 16 386 Americans over 55 years of age participated in the study of cognitive skills, in 2010 – 16 311. Scientists conducted a telephone survey, which included 27 questions and simple tasks. For example, participants were asked to count in reverse order from 20 to 1 or call the antonym of the word “generous”. Dementia or a condition close to it was recorded in those who could answer six or fewer questions out of 27. If a person answered 7-11 questions, the scientists noted that he had a small or average level of cognitive impairment. Also, the survey participants told about their age, nationality, the presence of the spouse, the number of children and the level of education.
Comparing the results of the surveys, the scientists found out: in ten years the number of those who scored less than six points in the test decreased. In 2000, the number of respondents with dementia or a condition close to it was 7.1% among the rural population and 5.4% among the townspeople. Weak cognitive impairment was noted in 19.8% and 15.9% of the respondents, respectively. In 2010, 5.1% of rural pensioners and 4.4% of urban residents scored 16 or fewer points (16.5% and 14.9% with weak violations, respectively).
The researchers compared several factors presumably associated with the risk of developing dementia: the age of the respondents, their nationality, material security, health status and educational level. The latter proved to be the most influential factor capable of protecting intellect. Dementia was much less developed in those who studied for a total of more than 12 years. Scientists point out that during the twentieth century secondary education became more accessible, so the total number of those who passed this 12-year lineage is growing.
The study is published in the journal American Journal of Preventive Medicine .
Earlier, scientists from the University College of London came to the conclusion that in single people dementia develops more often than those who are married.