But far more women live to be that old, study authors note
WEDNESDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Not as many men as women make it to their 90s or beyond, but those who do have an advantage over their female counterparts: Researchers found that males aged 90 and older are more likely to avoid dementia than women of similar age.
There's no clear reason for the striking discrepancy, according to the study, which found signs of senility in a full 45 percent of women aged 90 and older from a southern California retirement community. Men weren't immune to mental decline, however, since 28 percent of them also suffered from dementia.
Still, "given the increasing number of people (aged 90 and older) this can become a fairly big public health problem," said study lead author Maria Corrada, an assistant adjunct professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine. "We need to be prepared for that. Dementia requires a lot of care, and a lot of money needs to be spent on caring for these people."
Dementia -- also known as senility -- refers to the mental confusion that can strike the elderly. Alzheimer's disease, stroke and brain injuries can lead to the condition, although the cause is sometimes unknown.
Researchers know little about how senility affects the so-called "oldest old" -- people 90 and older. There are now an estimated two million American in this age group and that number is projected to grow substantially as the population ages.
In the new study, the researchers examined a survey of 911 men and women over the age of 90 between 2003 and 2006. In the 1980s, all the participants had lived in the Leisure Village retirement community in Orange County, Calif., and took part in another study at that time.
Two-thirds of the participants were women and most were white, upper-middle class and well-educated. In some cases, the researchers interviewed them by phone or in person; in
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