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50% of UK adults unaware of dementia risk factors

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50% of UK adults unaware of dementia risk factors

​According to Alzheimer's Research UK, fifty per cent of UK adults are unable to identify key risk factors for dementia. The charity surveyed 2,361 people in 2018 and found that only 1% were able to name the seven known risk or protective factors for dementia.

Dementia risk factors

  • Excessive drinking

  • Genetics

  • Smoking

  • High blood pressure

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Physical exercise is a protective factor against the disease

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer's Research UK, said that despite growing dementia awareness, there is still work to be done in terms of educating the wider community.

"It is a sad truth that more people are affected by dementia than ever before and half of us now know someone with the condition. Yet despite growing dementia awareness, we must work harder to improve understanding of the diseases that cause it."

Half of the people (52%) who took part in the Dementia Attitudes Monitor Wave 1 knew someone who has been diagnosed as having a form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and this percentage remained unchanged in 2021’s Wave 2. However, only half recognised that dementia is a cause of death in 2018 – a figure that increased to 62% in 2021. The study also found that a fifth of people incorrectly believed that dementia is an inevitable part of getting older in both 2018 and 2021.

Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that affect cognitive function, such as memory loss, confusion and personality change, which gradually worsen over time.

Although a third of cases of dementia are thought to be influenced by factors within our control, only a third of people surveyed in both 2018 and 2021 believed it is possible to reduce the risk of dementia, compared with much higher percentages for heart disease and diabetes.

Opinions around understanding personal risk of dementia

When asked whether they’d want to know their risk of developing dementia, three quarters of people said that they would like to know – a fraction which remained the same in both 2018 and 2021. 75% of people asked would also be willing to use apps and wearable technology to help their doctor to understand their brain health and risk of dementia if the option were to become available in the future.

Willingness to participate in research for dementia saw its highest uptake in 2021 with 69% of people saying that they would take part. This is mainly due to a belief that medical research is the only answer to dementia. With 61% of people asked saying that they think that there will be a cure for dementia one day, there appears to be plenty of positivity around being able to beat this disease.

For more articles about dementia, take a look at our blog.


Dementia-Attitudes Monitor