(HealthDay)—The number of new cases of dementia has been declining in recent decades in the United States, Germany, and other developed countries, a trio of new studies shows. The three studies are being presented Tuesday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 12 to 17 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In one U.S. study, researchers found that, compared with the late 1970s, the rate of dementia diagnosis was 44 percent lower in recent years. The sharpest decline was seen among people in their 60s.
A second study, which reviewed research from England, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States, found a similar pattern. The third study, meanwhile, found signs of progress in the space of only a few years: In 2004, older German adults were about one-quarter more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than in 2007.
"This is some good news," Dean Hartley, Ph.D., director of science initiatives for the nonprofit Alzheimer's Association, told HealthDay. "We hope this data is saying, 'There are things we can do to change this,'" Hartley added, referring to the huge human and financial toll of dementia worldwide. In the United States alone, about 5.2 million people have Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association. And the cost of caring for all of them is expected to total $214 billion this year.