Dementia is one of our biggest fears


Research for Dementia Awareness Week reveals the extent to which Scots fear dementia and the implications it can have on friendships

Susan Smith's photo

29th May 2017 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Getting dementia and not having enough money to live on are Scots two biggest fears about old age.

Charity Age Scotland asked Scots to name their top three worries about getting older.

It found that physical disability in old age worries people far less than the thought of getting dementia or financial concerns.

The research findings came out at the start of Dementia Awareness Week.

They came on the back of fresh research from Alzheimer’s Scotland revealing people with dementia often lose friends after their diagnosis.

A poll of more than 500 people with dementia and their carers discovered 70% of people had lost touch with friends.

The survey also found that 60% of people living with dementia feel reluctant to attend social situations such as birthdays or weddings with family and friends. Respondents highlighted reasons including; “I don’t like crowds or loud noise.” “I’m embarrassed about my dementia.” and “I feel frightened”.

Anne McWhinnie, Dementia Friends project manager at Alzheimer's Scotland, said: “Our survey has revealed some heartbreaking findings, but it has also highlighted some key issues which we as a society must urgently address. A dementia diagnosis can turn someone’s world upside down, so it’s vital to stay in touch and feel comfortable in talking about the changes that it brings."

Both charities said a lack of public understanding about the disease is affecting people’s attitudes – increasing public fear of how to cope with the disease in ourselves and our friends.

A worrying 91% of Alzheimer’ Scotland survey respondents felt that the public did not know enough about dementia and what it is like to live with the illness.

Although public awareness of dementia has improved greatly in recent years, public understanding of the illness and its wider symptoms remain limited. As well as memory problems, other less-well known but common symptoms of dementia include difficulties in concentrating, problems with language, issues with vision, disorientation, increased tiredness and struggling with familiar tasks such as using a bank card.

Dementia campaigner Agnes Houston “I would like to give hope and say getting a diagnosis of dementia is not the end of your life it just means adapting and learning to come to terms with new challenges. It means families supporting each other to come to terms with these changes. If you know one person with dementia you only know one person with dementia. We are all different and have unique challenges, including sensory not only memory, so please understand that.”

Age Scotland is now calling for more action to tackle stigma around dementia in light of these findings, and more information to be made available on how people can reduce their risk of developing dementia.

It has published a new Healthy living and Dementia guidw, which provides information both on what can be done to reduce dementia risk and how people who have a diagnosis can live well with the condition by keeping active.

Alzheimer's Scoltand is encouraging the public to back it's Dementia Friends initiative.

Anne McWhinnie said: “Support your friend and others living with dementia all over Scotland by being part of our Dementia Friends initiative which aims to increase understanding of the condition, and of the small things everyone can do to help people living with dementia in their community. The most important way you can help is just to be a good friend and to support the friends and family living with dementia.”

Dementia affects around 90,000 people across Scotland and by 2020 it is estimated that there will be over 1 million people living with the illness in the UK.