Who gets dementia?

In most cases, doctors don't know why some people get the illnesses that cause dementia, but other people don't. They are working hard to find out more about dementia.

Here are some facts we do know:

  1. The illnesses that cause dementia don’t spread from person to person. You don’t have to worry about ‘catching’ dementia from someone else.
  2. Not all older people get dementia. For every 1000 people older than 65, around 18 will develop dementia each year.
  3. The younger a person is, the less likely they are to have dementia.
  4. Most people who have dementia become ill when they are in their late 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s.
  5. Sometimes a person who is younger than 65 gets an illness that causes dementia, but this is less common. It is called early-onset or young-onset dementia.
  6. Around 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia (that’s around 1.3% of the whole population).
  7. Around 40,000 of these people are younger than 65. That means for every 100 people with dementia in the UK, two are younger than 65.


This information was updated in November 2019 and is due for review in November 2021. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.