African Americans Could Be at Higher Risk of Developing Dementia

Elderly Couple

An important part of maintaining a healthy life is taking care of your mind as well as your body and doing both may be more vital than ever for African Americans whom, according to a new study, are at a higher risk of developing dementia in old age.

According to the study, posted by Reuters, African Americans and American Indians are afflicted with dementia at a higher rate than other ethnic groups. Researchers who conducted the study observed dementia rates among six different racial and ethnic groups including whites, Hispanics, Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

The study analyzed data from 274,000 members of Kaiser Permanente and tracked the dementia incidence in people ages 60 and up, from 2000 to 2013. The findings show that African Americans face the highest risk of developing dementia, with a rate of about 27 cases per 1,000 people per year.

Asian Americans face the lowest risk of all ethnic groups included in the study, with a rate of 15 cases per 1,000 people per year, while Latinos and Pacific Islanders fell somewhere in-between the other groups, with a rate of about 20 cases per 1,000 people per year.

While the results provide some alarming information for the black community, it’s important to note that the study relied mainly on medical records in which the patients were clinically diagnosed with dementia, but did not take into account any “brain imaging or postmortem pathology to confirm the diagnosis or to distinguish between Alzheimer’s disease and so-called vascular dementia.” Information about the patients’ socioeconomic factors, which also may influence the risk of developing the disease, were also excluded.

Regardless, if you’re wondering whether or not it’s possible to be proactive about maintaining a healthy mind, the answer is yes and everything leads back to exercise, both mental and physical. “Exercise of both the mind and body are beneficial for the entire person’s well-being across the years – for younger persons as well as older adults,” Annette Fitzpatrick, a public health researcher at the University of Washington, told Reuters. “And while we still have not untangled the types of ‘brain games’ or exercises that are best, any activity of this sort cannot hurt.”