Wave 2 of the Monitor has revealed that more than half (52%) of the UK public know someone who has been diagnosed with the condition - a figure that remains unchanged since Wave 1. This is most often a grandparent (17%) or parent (13%).
‘Dementia is an inevitable part of getting older’
The majority of people (68%) correctly disagree with the statement ‘Dementia is an inevitable part of getting older’ - up from 60% in Wave 1. The proportion who are unsure whether dementia is inevitable has fallen from 17% to 11%.
‘Dementia is a cause of death’
In 2018, half (51%) of the public agreed with the statement ‘Dementia is a cause of death’, despite it being the UK’s leading cause of death, excluding COVID-19, since 2017. Three years on, 62% recognised the terminal nature of the condition.
‘Dementia is the health condition I fear most’
Half (49%) of UK adults say that dementia is the health condition they fear most about getting in the future, indicating an increase in concern since Wave 1 of the Monitor (42%). Women (55% compared to 42% of men) and older adults (60% of those aged 65 or over) are more likely to agree that dementia is the health condition they fear most, reflecting findings from 2018.
Those with no personal experience of dementia:
Having personal experience strongly influences attitudes and understanding of dementia. 26% of those who do not know anyone who has been diagnosed agree that they would find it hard to talk to someone with the condition compared to 19% who do.
People with lower socioeconomic status: A quarter (26%) of those in social grades DE view dementia as an inevitable part of getting older, compared with 13% of people in social grades AB.
People who identify as Asian or Black: People who identify as Asian/Asian British (41%) and Black African/Caribbean/Black British (45%) are less likely to agree with the statement ‘Dementia is a cause of death’ compared with those who identify as white (64%).
‘Health conditions people can reduce their risk of developing’
The latest evidence suggests that up to 40% of all cases of dementia are linked to factors we may be able to influence ourselves, yet just a third (33%) of UK adults think it’s possible for people to reduce their risk. Women are less likely to think it’s possible to influence their dementia risk than men (30% compared to 37%).
Awareness of dementia risk factors
When asked to consider what could increase a person’s risk, the most common responses included ‘being less mentally active’ (mentioned by 22%) and ‘genetic factors’ (19%). Very few people named physical risk factors like blood pressure and diabetes, despite evidence suggesting these are among the factors most closely linked to dementia risk.
‘It is possible to influence brain health’
Despite limited understanding of the ability to reduce dementia risk, three quarters (75%) of people believe it’s possible for a person to influence their brain health, suggesting that positively reframing dementia risk reduction as ‘protecting brain health’ represents a major opportunity to increase public engagement.
‘Would want to know my risk of developing dementia’
Three quarters (74%) of UK adults say they would want to be told about their personal risk of developing dementia later in life if their doctor could provide this information (73% in Wave 1).
'Willing to use apps and wearables to understand risk'
There is widespread support for using smartphone apps and wearable technology that could, in future, be used to help them and their doctor better understand their brain health and future dementia risk, with 75% of people willing to do so.
‘Likely to seek a formal diagnosis’
The vast majority of people (89%) would be likely to seek a formal diagnosis if they were concerned they might be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. The most common motivators are to gain access to treatments that could help and to enable the person to plan for the future (each mentioned by 32% of people who would seek a diagnosis).
Of the 9% who would be unlikely to seek a formal diagnosis, the main reason given was that doing so would be too stressful.
Would take the test.
Would take test regardless of the effectiveness of treatments available.
Would take test if they could be offered an effective treatment.
Would take test if they could be offered an effective prevention.
There is similarly strong support for very early detection and diagnosis, with most people (87%) saying they would take a test, or set of tests, that could tell whether they were in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, even before any symptoms appeared (85% in 2018).
The Monitor once again identified strongest support for research into ways to cure the diseases that cause dementia, cited as the most important type of research by 28% of participants. Next, research into ways to prevent dementia was chosen as most important by 22% of people.
Priorities for medical research
‘One day the diseases that cause dementia will be cured’
Positively, the majority (61%) of UK adults believe that one day the diseases that cause dementia will be cured. 18% express uncertainty and just 16% disagree.
‘Willing to participate in medical research for dementia'
Wave 2 of the Monitor found that the 69% of UK adults would now consider getting involved in medical research for dementia - a marked increase since Wave 1 (50%).
Research being ‘the only answer to dementia’ is the main driver for participation, mentioned by 46% of those expressing an interest in taking part. As seen in Wave 1, uncertainty about what would be involved is the most common reason for reluctance, mentioned by 23% of those who would not take part.
Please read the full Dementia Attitudes Monitor Wave 2 Report for a comprehensive analysis
of the UK’s attitudes towards dementia and research.