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The average lifespan of people in the UK has increased over recent decades, rising to 81 as of 2017 projections compared to 77 in 2000. With increasing average lifespan, there increases the risk of developing diseases, such as dementia. Some experts project that by 2050, the number of older adults with dementia could reach 131.5 million worldwide.

Such figures are likely to cause concern in some individuals, which unfortunately tends to lead to misconceptions. In this blog, Stanfield Nursing Home will aim to dispel 6 of these dementia myths.

1. Dementia is inevitable with age

This statement is simply not true; dementia is not a normal part of ageing. The total population prevalence of dementia among over 65s is 7.1%. The number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to increase to over 1 million by 2021 and over 2 million by 2051.

However, it will still remain a minority. These predictions are based on our ageing population and are a worst case scenario, with the assumption that there are no public health interventions.

2. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the same thing

Dementia is often used as an umbrella term for all types of dementia, which can understandably cause confusion. It is defined as a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all dementia cases. Other types of dementia include frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, mixed dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

Information on all types of dementia can be found here.

3. A family member has dementia, so I will get it

Another common dementia myth is that it is purely genetic. This is not true as the most significant risk factor for dementia is age.

If a parent or grandparent developed Alzheimer’s when they were younger than 65 years, the chance of it passing on genetically is higher. However, the majority of cases do not have a genetic link. Just because a person’s family member has a dementia diagnosis, doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to develop dementia later in life.

4. Dementia only affects older adults

Whilst age is a risk factor for dementia, it can affect younger adults in rare cases. There are over 42,000 people with early-onset dementia in the UK. This is the same as 5.2% of the total population living with dementia.

Whilst prevalence is a minority, it’s still there.

5. Memory loss always signifies dementia

Although memory loss can be a common early symptom of dementia, it does not necessarily signify the start of this condition. Human memory can be unpredictable, and we all forget things occasionally.

Memory issues tend to be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. This is not the case for other forms of dementia. For instance, early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia can include changes in mood and personality, language difficulties, and obsessive behaviour.

6. Dementia is always preventable

This dementia myth is unfortunately not true. Certain factors can reduce the risk of some dementias or delay their onset, but it does not prevent them.

In the reverse, here are some examples of factors that increase the risk of dementia:

  • Less education
  • High blood pressure
  • Hearing impairment
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diabetes
  • Low levels of social contact
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Air pollution

Contacting Stanfield Nursing Home

If you are interested in finding out more about dementia myths then head to this website. For more about Stanfield Nursing Home’s specialist dementia care services, visit our website or call 01905 420 459 to speak to a member of our helpful and friendly team.