More than 850,000 people in the UK live with dementia, and one in three people born today will develop dementia in the future. Evidence shows that dementia is most common in those aged 65 or over and with an ageing population this is likely to grow significantly, the Alzheimer’s Society estimates there will be over one million people living with dementia in 2022.
What do we mean by dementia?
Dementia is a term that describes a set of symptoms that result from a variety of diseases or injuries that affect the brain. People with dementia may experience memory loss, difficulties with communication and reasoning, changes in mood, falls, difficulties managing their own health and carrying out day-to-day activities.
There are many diseases that result in dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, followed by vascular dementia. Over 17 percent of people who are diagnosed with dementia will have vascular dementia. Vascular dementia has the same risk factors as heart disease and stroke.
Causes and cure
There is no single cause of dementia, but evidence shows that 35 percent of dementia cases could be delayed or prevented if 12 potentially modifiable risk factors are targeted.
These include a change in lifestyle factors such as being more physically active, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption. Other risk factors include hearing impairment, social isolation and exposure to air pollution. Good dementia care and support is also important to live a healthy, and independent life for as long as possible. The Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2012 provides a number of objectives that can contribute to the prevention, intervention and dementia care and support.
Dementia does not just affect the person with the diagnosis but also friends, families and carers(3). In 2020, 670,000 people were the primary carer for those with dementia it is vital that we provide these groups with the support they need.