CHICAGO., Ill. (WPVI) -- Dementia is affecting a smaller share of Americans, according to a new study out of Michigan.
Researchers say two key factors are causing the decline.
The new study gives us more proof that education and healthy living can help preserve brain function.
Dementia affects 4 to 5 millions older adults in the U.S. and their families.
But in a study of more than 21,000 older adults, doctors at the University of Michigan found the prevalence rate of dementia dropped from about 11.5% in 2000 to about 9% in 2012.
Dr. Kenneth Langa attributes the decline to increases in the level of education and better treatments for cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure
"This suggests that a 75-year-old today has a lower risk of having dementia than a 75-year-old 10 or 20 years ago," says Dr. Langa.
So a person's risk may be lower.
But overall, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's is still expected to grow as baby boomers age.
Keeping physically fit, and keeping the brain active can help delay or prevent dementia
Share of Americans with dementia declines, but drop may not last