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11 Facts Everyone Should Know About Dementia

The main thing is that life doesn't end when dementia begins.

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1. In the UK, around 225,000 people will develop dementia each year – that's the equivalent to one person every three minutes.

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There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, which means you might know someone affected by the condition. Dementia is not just about memory loss – there are many different kinds of dementia, and symptoms vary widely.

2. 150,000 people die with dementia every year.

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Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms will eventually get worse. In fact, dementia is the leading cause of death in women and the third leading cause for men, with 60,000 deaths a year directly attributable to dementia.

3. The number of people with dementia is set to rise to 1 million by 2021.

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Despite this, dementia research is seriously underfunded.

Scientists and researchers are working hard to find a cure for dementia. Yet the amount spent on research is low. The government invests eight times less in dementia research than cancer research, and there are six times as many researchers in the UK working on cancer as there are for dementia.

There have been no new drug treatments for dementia in over a decade.

4. Nearly half of people with dementia go undiagnosed.

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Because people chalk it up to age-related forgetfulness and because it often starts gradually and slowly gets worse over time. You don’t wake up one day and it hits you. Also, the symptoms – particularly in younger people with dementia – can be mistaken for depression and other illnesses.

5. Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain.

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It’s not a natural part of growing old. Dementia describes a set of symptoms, like memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, that are caused by these diseases.

6. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.

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People often mistakenly assume Alzheimer’s and dementia are either the same thing OR they think that they’re totally different. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that damages the brain and causes dementia.

7. Dementia is not just an older person's condition.

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While people living with dementia primarily tend to be older (1 out of 20 people with dementia is under 65), over 40,000 younger people in the UK have dementia, which is known as early-onset or young-onset dementia. The most common cause of this is early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

8. Just because your parent has dementia, it doesn't mean you will get it too.

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People often overestimate their risk of inheriting dementia from their parents, but in fact, only about one in a thousand cases of common dementias are genetically inherited. Things like heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as conditions such as diabetes and obesity, play much more of a role in the development of dementia.

9. Some of the symptoms might be surprising.

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Someone with dementia might repeat themselves and have problems recalling things that happened recently – although some people easily remember things from a long time ago. But dementia can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel, and behave. Many people have problems judging distances even though their eyes are fine.

It’s important to see the person first, not the dementia. Mood changes and difficulties controlling emotions are common too. Someone might become unusually sad, frightened, angry, or easily upset. The person could lose their self-confidence and become withdrawn. Remember: All behaviour is a means of communicating how a person is feeling.

10. You can do things to reduce your risk of developing dementia.

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Though there is no cure for dementia right now, there are things people can do to help to reduce the risk of developing it.

Things like regular physical exercise, a healthy diet, and cutting out smoking all heighten the chances of not developing the condition.

11. Life doesn't end when dementia begins.

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While there isn’t a cure for dementia yet, there are medications to slow symptoms down for a while. Non-drug support and advice are also available. This means it is possible to live well with dementia for years.

The earlier you seek medical advice the better. Early diagnosis increases the opportunities available to help overcome problems and find the best coping methods.

Alzheimer's Society is the UK's leading dementia support and research charity.

We do everything we can to help people living with dementia stay connected to their lives and the people they love for longer. If you're worried about dementia, or simply want to find out more about it, please get in touch at alzheimers.org.uk.

Share this post to help spread awareness of dementia and how Alzheimer's Society can help.

All facts and statistics provided by Alzheimer's Society.

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