LGBTQ people at higher risk of dementia: study
A new study has found that LGBTQ Americans are reporting increased rates of memory problems and confusion, which are two early signs of dementia.
What’s more, the study noted that these present new risk factors for the LGBTQ community when considering Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia.
LGBTQ community faces dementia worries
The study noted that more LGBTQ Americans reported this increase rates of memory loss and confusion as compared to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of California in San Francisco, and was based on their analysis of 2015 data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in nine states.
In the survey, one in seven or 14 percent of people in the sexual and gender minorities had reported memory problems that got worse over the past year. Of their heterosexual and cisgender people, only one in ten had reported the same problem.
Jason Flatt, an assistant professor at UCSF and lead author of the study, said “While we do not yet know for certain why sexual or gender minority individuals had higher subjective cognitive decline, we believe it may be due to higher rates of depression, inability to work, high stress, and a lack of regular access to healthcare.”
Yaakov Stern, a professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, noted that his colleagues had undertaken a small, similar pilot study of cognition with the LGBTQ community around the New York area, and came up with “very similar findings.”
Other factors affecting possible dementia
The researchers also took into consideration characteristics like age, race and ethnicity, gender, income, and marital status.
With these factors, they discovered that LGBTQ individuals were 29 percent more likely to report memory loss as compared to their straight counterparts.
The survey, which was done randomly over the phone, had questions about memory loss and confusion in the past 12 months, as well as gender identity and sexual orientation.
Of the total number of respondents, 44,403 were aged 45 or older, and three percent of this identified as LGBTQ with the rest identifying as heterosexual and cisgender.
Previous studies have determined a correlation between self-reported cognitive impairment and dementia. Flatt said that those suffering subjective cognitive decline are three times more likely to have future cognitive decline.
However, Dr. Victor Henderson, a professor of health policy and of neurology at Stanford University, warned that the age group the researchers were using might be relatively young, given that dementia is rare below age 60.