Want to live longer, without losing your cognitive abilities? Perhaps look east. Far East.
A new “microsimulation” based on a database of 40 million people looks at the future of Japan’s aging population into to the year 2043. Microsimulation models can provide detailed analysis down to the individual level.
Japan is known for its older population. While China, India and the United States have more older citizens, those 65 and older make up nearly 30% of Japan’s population.
The good news: The study projects that more people will live longer and that the number of years spent living with dementia will decrease. The not-so-good news is that, as is often the case, improved health benefits aren’t equally enjoyed.
The study by researchers at the University of Tokyo and Stanford University predicts that Japanese women over age 75 with less than a high school education may be disproportionately affected by dementia and frailty.
The ultralarge database allowed the scientists to “follow” a virtual cohort of more than 40 million people aged 60 and over, from 2016 to 2043.
The microsimulation is more nuanced than previous studies. In addition to dementia and frailty, it considered other health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, depression and diabetes.
Caring for the elderly can be taxing for individuals and health care systems, so having an idea about how a population will age is key to ensuring that policymakers can plan for the future.
So take heart: The future is likely to be a place where more people live longer, healthier lives. And dementia is not an inescapable fact of life.