Four things you need to know about dementia

Lots of people might be surprised to find out that they can take steps to reduce their risk of developing dementia and maintain their brain health.

Although more than half of us in the UK know someone with dementia, there are still lots of myths and misunderstandings out there about dementia and the diseases that cause it.

Here are our top four facts about dementia - we hope you learn something new.

Dementia is more than memory loss

Dementia describes a set of symptoms including problems with remembering, thinking and speaking as well as behavioural changes.

It’s caused by diseases of the brain that damage our precious brain cells and the links between them. Alzheimer’s disease is most common, accounting for around two thirds of cases of dementia in older people. But there are several other types of dementia, including vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia, each affecting people in very different ways.

Dementia is not a normal part of ageing

It’s true that our chances of developing dementia increase as we get older, but dementia is not an inevitable part of later life. The condition can affect younger people too – over 40,000 people under 65 have dementia in the UK.

Dementia is rarely passed down in families

As dementia is so common, many of us will have a relative living with the condition - but this doesn’t mean we will get it too. Our risk of dementia is made up of many complex factors, including our age, environment, lifestyle, health and whether we carry any risk genes. Many of us may have risk genes for diseases that cause dementia. While they might tip the balance towards dementia, they don’t mean someone will definitely develop the condition because there are many other important factors at play.

Only in rare cases does a family carry a faulty gene that causes a disease like Alzheimer’s to be passed down from parent to child.

Research is making real progress

Medical research has already changed the lives of so many people affected by diseases like cancer and is providing hope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alzheimer’s Research UK is here to make sure research delivers the same breakthroughs for everyone affected by dementia.

Researchers are making hundreds of important discoveries every year, each one contributing to our understanding of the diseases that cause dementia and the steps we can take to reduce our risk. These discoveries are paving the way for new ways of diagnosing, preventing and treating dementia.

Dementia is rarely passed down in families

As dementia is so common, many of us will have a relative living with the condition - but this doesn’t mean we will get it too. Our risk of dementia is made up of many complex factors, including our age, environment, lifestyle, health and whether we carry any risk genes. Many of us may have risk genes for diseases that cause dementia. While they might tip the balance towards dementia, they don’t mean someone will definitely develop the condition because there are many other important factors at play.

Only in rare cases does a family carry a faulty gene that causes a disease like Alzheimer’s to be passed down from parent to child.

Research is making real progress

Medical research has already changed the lives of so many people affected by diseases like cancer and is providing hope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alzheimer’s Research UK is here to make sure research delivers the same breakthroughs for everyone affected by dementia.

Researchers are making hundreds of important discoveries every year, each one contributing to our understanding of the diseases that cause dementia and the steps we can take to reduce our risk. These discoveries are paving the way for new ways of diagnosing, preventing and treating dementia.

"Once a keen runner, my dad’s walking became more unsteady after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. 45 years after I last ran, I followed in his footsteps by taking on Running Down Dementia to help keep my brain healthy and raise awareness of this terrible condition."

Stuart

Brain health - Stuart profile image