7 things you didn't know about dementia
Set to be the biggest killer of the 21st century - yet research is underfunded
Many families are affected by dementia. The condition is set to become the biggest killer of the 21st century - someone develops dementia every three minutes, and too many are facing it alone without adequate support. Here are some facts and figures about dementia:
1. Dementia is an umbrella term
Dementia describes different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function. These conditions are all usually progressive and eventually severe. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62 per cent of those diagnosed. Other types of dementia include; vascular dementia affecting 17 per cent of those diagnosed, mixed dementia affecting 10 per cent of those diagnosed, frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.
Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding. Dementia is a terminal condition.
2. Dementia isn’t a natural part of ageing
Dementia doesn’t care who you are and can affect anyone. It’s caused by diseases of the brain which includes Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia affects everyone differently. Someone with the condition might experience a number of changes including problems with memory, thinking, concentration and language. It mainly affects people over the age of 65 however there are more than 42,000 people under 65 living with dementia in the UK.
3. Dementia is a progressive condition but with support people can continue to live well
Dementia is progressive, meaning that symptoms gradually get worse. However, many people living with dementia lead active and fulfilling lives for many years. There are many ways to help support someone living with dementia from becoming a Dementia Friend, gaining a better understanding of the condition, to volunteering with Alzheimer’s Society’s Side by Side service. The charity is for everyone affected by dementia, to find out more about local services or volunteering visit alzheimers.org.uk
4. By 2021, one million of us will have dementia
There are 850,000 people in the UK who have a form of dementia, of which an estimated 3,800 live in the New Forest, 19,000 in Hampshire. Dementia has replaced heart diseases as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, accounting for 11.6% of all deaths registered in 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics. Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes.
Only around 50% of those with dementia in Hampshire have been diagnosed - so there are lots of people with dementia who are not getting support and treatment that could help them and their families.
5. There is no cure for dementia
Delaying the onset of dementia by five years would halve the number of deaths from the condition, saving 30,000 lives a year. Of the top 10 causes of death, dementia is the only one we can’t prevent, cure or even slow down, but funding of dementia research is still far too low. Research is continuing into new drugs, vaccines and other medical treatments. Drugs do exist for Alzheimer’s disease which can improve symptoms or temporarily slow progression, in some people. There are no licensed drug treatments for other forms of dementia.
6. Dementia research is underfunded
Dementia research is desperately underfunded. For every person living with dementia, the annual cost to the UK economy is over £30,000 and yet only £90 is spent on dementia research each year.
Alzheimer’s Society is committed to spending at least £150 million over the next decade on dementia research including a £50 million investment in the UK’s first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.
7. We can beat dementia through research
Alzheimer’s Society provides information and support, improves care, funds research, and creates lasting change for people affected by dementia. The charity is investing in research into dementia care, cause, cure and prevention of all types of dementia. Dementia devastates lives. The Alzheimer’s Society needs people to unite against dementia now. Whether you choose to donate, volunteer or campaign, every action makes a difference.
Visit alzheimers.org.uk to find out more about dementia and how you can help.