Shining a light on the UK’s attitudes towards dementia and research

Today we’re launching our Dementia Attitudes Monitor Report – an in-depth analysis of the UK’s attitudes towards dementia and research.

Improving understanding and shaping attitudes towards dementia is crucial if we are to make breakthroughs in research possible, so the Monitor, which will be repeated every two years, is an essential tool for us.

In addition to serving as a compass, directing our work and identifying the messages and audiences we must prioritise, I hope the Monitor will become a catalyst for wider public dialogue around dementia, informing government and other organisations as we work together to overcome this heartbreaking condition.

So what have we learnt?

The Monitor, based on a survey of 2,361 adults across the UK, has revealed that more than half of the UK population (52%) has been affected by dementia, with a family member or someone else close to them diagnosed with the condition.

52% of the public know someone who has dementia

52% of the public know someone who has dementia #DementiaAttitudes Click To Tweet

Despite awareness of dementia increasing, one in five UK adults still incorrectly believes that it is an inevitable part of getting older and just half of the public recognise that dementia can cause death.

This shortfall in understanding of the physical diseases that cause dementia means that people may be less likely to take steps to maintain their own brain health, to seek a diagnosis or to support research that has the power to transform lives.

51% of the public recognise that dementia can cause death

51% of the public recognise that dementia can cause death #DementiaAttitudes Click To Tweet

Wave 1 of the Dementia Attitudes Monitor has identified major groups within society that we must work hard to engage, with younger adults, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those with no experience of dementia less likely to realise that they can reduce their risk of developing dementia and more likely to say that they don’t know what happens in a person’s brain when they get dementia.

Positively, it has also revealed that people in the UK are open to learning more about their individual risk of developing dementia (73% say they would want to be told in midlife about their personal risk of developing dementia later in life), as well as being highly supportive of research into ways to prevent, and one day, cure dementia.

It has also shown that more must be done to engage people with how they can personally support research efforts. Half of those who participated in the Monitor would, hypothetically, be willing to get involved in medical research for dementia, 20% would not and a further 28% are unsure. We know that participation in research through programmes such as Join Dementia Research is vital for research efforts to continue at pace so there is a real opportunity to engage more people with the positive personal contribution they can make to research.

Half of those who participated in the Monitor would, hypothetically, be willing to be involved in research

Half of those who participated in the Monitor would, hypothetically, be willing to be involved in research #DementiaAttitudes Click To Tweet

The full Wave 1 report gives a detailed picture of public attitudes towards dementia, the unhelpful misconceptions that persist, and the opportunities that we and others must seize as we work towards a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.

Click to read the Dementia Attitudes Monitor


  1. Sam Hodges on 10th March 2019 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks for such a great blog, full of useful information. It is worth family members finding out as much as they can about this. There is a great list of books to be found here

  2. Camille Leavold on 14th May 2019 at 4:25 am

    An interesting article and valuable study. I would like to reiterate that anyone can register with the Join Dementia Research, whether you are directly connected with dementia or not. Given the prognosis for the impact of this cruel syndrome, this is a great opportunity to help others and perhaps aid developments for you or someone you love in the future.

  3. Gordon Stull on 14th August 2019 at 11:37 pm

    Hilary… i don’t know how to say this in your terms… i have been researching the “particle flow aspects” of dementia & alzheimer’s world wide and it is something out of this world! But no body seems to care? Why is that? Quantum mechanics demands two primary differentials… the God of Love & anti-god of love and that which lies in between… that which lies in between… goes like this… pump:gate:motor/motor:gate:pump. I know… no one seems to care unless it makes them money! USA they suck hind tit… for the Abomination of desolation has the free man bound… there is nothing that can be done about this and you’re are probably there too. We need a closed-loop connective path for us… “particle flow researcher’s” into the God of Loves particle flow-path”, if you are there your help is greatly appreciated!

  4. mark harrison on 8th November 2019 at 10:54 am

    Gordon, im not sure who this was aimed at. If it was for the carers of dementia patients on their journey with the illness , this is so far removed from their everyday needs and worries to switch them off after the first statement. There are far too many different organisations and charities all trying to do their own thing with a little guidance from the nhs and government. This groupof illnesses is the number one killer of the uk population and has been for several years. With the doubling of over 85s within the next 20 years, this is a crisis about to overwhelm the nhs and social care system. Where the older generations still struggle to ask for help and question doctors, social workers and carers. Causing more despair and problems are left unsolved til its too late.
    So bringing God and quantum physics into the world of dementia, maybe more suited to the letters column of The Times

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About the author

Hilary Evans

Hilary is Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, which is a charity working at a global level towards a world where people are free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia. The organisation’s aim is to raise awareness of the diseases that cause dementia, to increase dementia research funding and improve the environment for dementia scientists in the UK and internationally.