Why you can blame indoor plumbing for dementia: Notes from Dr. Rapp’s program on 12.1.2016

Why you can blame indoor plumbing for dementia: Notes from Dr. Rapp’s program on 12.1.2016

In case you forgot… Dr. Keith Rapp’s presentation on dementia, presented by the Vail Symposium and sponsored by the Vail Valley Medical Center, included many alarming and informative points.

What follows is a short compilation of major points made by Dr. Rapp.


  • In 1900 the life expectancy was 46 years old. This was largely due to sanitation issues. As measures such as hand washing and indoor plumbing came to be shortly after 1900, life expectancy was greatly and rapidly increased… as was the prevalence of dementia.
  • There are more people age 65 and older in the world today than all who ever made it to that age in the world before now.
  • Your likelihood of developing dementia of some kind doubles every 10 years after age 60. Prevalence:
    • 5% of people age 60 to 70.
    • 45% of people age 85 or older have dementia.
  • 8% of residents in Eagle County were over age 65 in 2015, up from 5% in 2010. By 2050, it is estimated 21% of Eagle County will be over the age of 65.
  • Dementia costs society $236 billion in 2016. It is estimated to increase to $1 trillion (in today’s dollars) per year in 2050.
    • The US Federal Budget is ~$3.5 trillion.
  • There were roughly 18.1 billion unpaid hours for people caring for dementia patients in 2016.
  • To replace the service you can get in a nursing home would, you would need to hire 5 full time caretakers.
  • Alzheimer’s disease represents roughly 70% of dementia
  • Things shown to help reduce the risk of dementia by up to 30% include:
    • Social interaction, continued education and work, and other cognitive activities,
    • Avoiding bad drug-drug interaction by minding your medication.
    • Controlling midlife hypertension.
    • Eating a modified Mediterranean diet.
    • Increased fish consumption and foods with phenols (berries, tea, beer, coffee, cocoa).
    • Embrace technology.
    • Keep stress in check.
    • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Living at altitude has been shown to reduce risk of developing dementia by up to 50%.
  • The following have been shown to minimize the effects of dementia:
    • Exercise
    • Music
    • Pets
    • Massage
    • Aroma therapy
    • Social engagement

Consult a physician about any questions relating to dementia or any actions taken toward caring for a person with dementia.


One Comments

  • Laurie K 02 / 12 / 2016 Reply

    Thanks for doing this – it’s great.
    A list of the websites that were listed would be helpful too!

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