Half of United Kingdom adults cannot identify any key risk factors for dementia,
according to a study by Alzheimer’s Research UK.
The charity surveyed 2,361 people and found that only 1% were able to name the seven known risk or protective factors for dementia.The six risk factors are heavy drinking, genetics, smoking, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes. Physical exercise is a protective factor against the disease.
The study, entitled Dementia Attitudes Monitor, found that more than half of UK adults now know someone with dementia. But only half recognised that dementia is a cause of death, and they found that a fifth incorrectly believe it is an inevitable part of getting older.
- More than 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia.
- This number is set to rise to more than one million by 2025.
- Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that affect cognitive function, such as memory loss, confusion and personality change, which get worse over time.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for approximately two-thirds of all cases.
- An individual’s risk of developing dementia is made up of different factors including age, genetics and lifestyle.
The charity said reducing the number of people who believe that dementia is an inevitable part of ageing is “key”, as “this belief drives other negative attitudes towards dementia”.
“Our findings show that those who believe dementia is an inevitable part of ageing are less likely to see the value in seeking a formal diagnosis, and are less likely to engage with research developments that could bring about life-changing treatments and ultimately, a cure.”
The study found key groups of people whose understanding of dementia is lower, including those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and adults under 24 and over 65.
There is not currently a test for dementia, but the survey found that if there was a breakthrough in research, 85% would be willing to take a test through their doctor before symptoms showed.
Source: BBC News