1 in 3 Older Americans Have Cognitive Impairment or Dementia

2 min read

Oct. 25, 2022 – A new study shows one-third of Americans age 65 or older have mild cognitive impairment or dementia.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Neurologyon Monday, is the most updated estimate in 2 decades to show the impact of dementia and cognitive decline among Americans, the authors said.

Specifically, the study found that 1 in 10 participants age 65 or older had dementia, and another 22% had mild cognitive impairment. 

With a large and diverse sample of 3,496 people, whose average age was 76, the researchers were able to offer newly specific details of those impacted by cognitive decline. Previous studies mostly focused on white people who were college-educated.

“This study is representative of the population of older adults and includes groups that have been historically excluded from dementia research but are at higher risk of developing cognitive impairment because of structural racism and income inequality,” lead study author Jennifer Manly, PhD, said in a statement, according to CNN. “If we’re interested in increasing brain health equity in later life, we need to know where we stand now and where to direct our resources.”

The new study showed dementia and moderate cognitive impairment had varying likelihoods of impacting people based on their age, education, and race and ethnicity. People who identified as Black, were older, and had lower educational levels were adversely affected by dementia. Moderate cognitive impairment adversely affected those who were older, identified as Hispanic, and also had lower educational levels. 

Dementia is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s disease, although it can have other causes, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

“Dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with your daily life,” the Mayo Clinic says. “It isn't a specific disease, but several diseases can cause dementia.”

Show Sources


JAMA Neurology: "Estimating the Prevalence of Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment in the US: The 2016 Health and Retirement Study Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol Project."

CNN: "1 in 10 Americans over 65 have dementia, study finds."

Mayo Clinic: "Dementia."


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