Alzheimer’s still a puzzle to many

MOST of us have seen, first-hand, the devastating consequences of Alzheimer’s, but half of UK adults cannot identify any key risk factors for dementia, according to a study by Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The charity surveyed 2,361 people, and found that only 1% were able to name the seven known risk, or protective, factors for dementia.

The six risk factors are heavy drinking, genetics, smoking, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes, and physical exercise offers protection against the disease.

The study, entitled Dementia Attitudes Monitor, found that more than half of UK adults now know someone with dementia. But only half recognised that dementia is a cause of death, and they discovered that a fifth incorrectly believe it is an inevitable part of getting older.

Although a third of cases of dementia are thought to be influenced by factors within our control, only 34% of people surveyed believe it is possible to reduce the risk of dementia, compared with 77% for heart disease, and 81% for diabetes.

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said that, despite growing dementia awareness, there was still a lot of misinformation.

“It is a sad truth that more people are affected by dementia than ever before, and half of us now know someone with the condition,” she said.

“Yet, despite growing dementia awareness, we must work harder to improve understanding of the diseases that cause it.”

More than 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, and this number is set to rise to more than one million, by 2025. Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms which affect cognitive function, such as memory loss, confusion and personality change, which get worse over time.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most-common cause of dementia, accounting for approximately two-thirds of all cases. An individual’s risk of developing dementia is made up of different factors including age, genetics and lifestyle.

The charity said reducing the number of people who believe that dementia is an inevitable part of ageing is key, as this belief drives other negative attitudes towards dementia.

“Our findings show that those who believe dementia is an inevitable part of ageing are less likely to see the value in seeking a formal diagnosis, and are less likely to engage with research developments that could bring about life-changing treatments, and, ultimately, a cure.”

The study found key groups of people whose understanding of dementia is lower, including those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and adults under 24 and over 65.

There is not currently a test for dementia, but the survey found that if there were a breakthrough in research, 85% would be willing to take a test through their doctor, before symptoms showed.

As previously mentioned, other health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, might increase the risk of developing dementia. A healthy diet and regular exercise can combat these conditions, which might, in turn, have an impact on dementia risk.

However, these correlations are crucial for research. And when there are recurring findings over multiple studies, the evidence becomes more compelling, and something worth paying attention to.

There is no downside to eating healthfully, engaging in physical and mental activities, and staying socially connected. Even if they are not yet proved to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, they are all extremely good for your mind and body, and will improve the quality of your life.

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Posted by on Feb 8 2019. Filed under Health & Beauty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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