Risk of dementia linked to level of wealth, study finds

Research into the link between wealth and dementia risk has found a positive association between lower wealth and dementia incidence.

PET scan, alzheimers disease brain scan

People with fewer financial resources in later life are at at a higher risk of dementia, results from a new study suggest.[1]

Researchers carried out a study of 6,220 individuals aged 65 years or older who were representative of the population in England. Of these, 7.4% were diagnosed with dementia between 2002–2003 and 2014–2015.

The researchers found a positive association between lower wealth and dementia incidence, independent of education and deprivation. The risk of developing dementia was 68% higher for those in the lowest wealth quintile than for those in the highest quintile.

Reporting in JAMA Psychiatry (online, 16 May 2018), the authors suggested that this could be because wealth represents a “gateway” to more mentally stimulating environments.

“Wealth could also be related to participants’ level of intelligence and their social hierarchy,” said Dorina Cadar, lead author of the study.

“This group of affluent people might be paying closer attention to what scientists suggest is the best way to stay healthy into old age; be socially active and culturally engaged, maintaining what we called cognitive reserve,” she added.


[1] Cadar D, Lassale C, Davies H et al. Individual and area-based socioeconomic factors associated with dementia incidence in England. Evidence from a 12-year follow-up in the English longitudinal study of ageing. JAMA Psych 2018;75(7):723–732. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1012

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The Pharmaceutical Journal, July 2018;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205173