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Apr 18, 2023
A fifth of adults wrongly believe Alzheimer’s and dementia are the same thing, according to research by Care UK.
A poll of 2,000 people has revealed the biggest misconceptions about the condition, with 17% believing that if a family member develops dementia, it means they will too.
Other confusions include it being inevitable with age, only affecting older adults and that prevention is possible.
Just over a third (34%) always attribute memory loss with the condition while 21% think Alzheimer's and dementia are different names for the same thing.
And a further 14% claim people living with dementia can’t lead a meaningful life.
The research was commissioned by nationwide care home provider and dementia experts Care UK, which are aiming to debunk these myths and provide vital support to families whose loved ones have been diagnosed with the condition thanks to its first-of-its kind, new video guide, 'One step at a time – A video guide to navigating dementia’.
‘Dementia’ is an umbrella term used for a number of conditions – rather than a specific one – that share common symptoms including remembering, thinking, decision making which often disrupt everyday activities.
While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia that begins with mild memory loss and progressively leads to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment around them.
Suzanne Mumford, Head of Nursing, Care and Dementia Services at Care UK, said: “There are plenty of misconceptions when it comes to dementia, and what this means for the person living with it and their family. Often, they come from reading something online or word-of-mouth rather than experts or trusted sources.
In reality, dementia is a condition that can be managed to ensure those who live with it can continue to lead fulfilling, meaningful lives and can be supported to still do the things they love.Suzanne Mumford
“That’s why we’ve launched our latest video guide, ‘One step at a time’. Featuring tips from our experts, but also testimonies of residents’ families, it is designed to help people navigate through the dementia journey, from dealing with the initial diagnosis to learning how to live well with dementia. It also incorporates advice aimed at carers to help them look after themselves.”
Just over a third (34%) don’t know very much about dementia or have much experience with it.
As it emerged 67% admit they should know more about the condition than they currently do – while 68% feel that the public in general should know more.
Despite this, 72% haven’t ever made a conscious effort to learn more about the diagnosis and 23% claim they are unfamiliar with its symptoms.
Nearly a fifth (21%) don’t know memory loss is associated with dementia and a further 32% are unaware confusion is also a key sign.
The internet is where 47% would first go if they had questions about the illness while 34% would seek medical advice.
When asked if any of their loved ones have ever been diagnosed with the condition, 36% said yes, with 91% agreeing it was one of the hardest things they’ve ever gone through.
Seeing them become a different person, watching them lose their sense of self and having to be patient are cited as the most challenging aspects of providing care.
Almost two thirds (62%) of those polled via OnePoll are afraid of developing dementia when they get older, with more than one in 10 (11%) starting to worry about this in their 20s.
But 32% say they have an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude and, despite people’s perceptions, 43% believe living with dementia isn’t always as doom and gloom as it first seems.
Suzanne added: “There are so many ways people can live active and fulfilling lives after being diagnosed with the condition, and we find that most people don’t know just how impactful the small changes can be – from diet adjustment to physical and mental exercise.
With this guide, we hope to provide knowledge and relieve some of the pressures people face after one of their loved ones is diagnosed with the condition.Suzanne Mumford
Alzheimer’s Society ambassador Angela Rippon, who is partnering with Care UK to launch the guide, added: “I understand the feeling that families experience when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. It's a difficult time, and it's easy to feel powerless and alone.
“There are numerous common misconceptions about dementia, and while it may be difficult to receive a diagnosis, it’s important to remember that it can also be the start of a new journey.
“I believe that raising awareness about the symptoms of dementia and what it's like to live with the condition is incredibly important. I'd like to encourage everyone to explore Care UK's video guide so that we can all work together to make our society more dementia friendly.”
To find out more about the guide, please visit careuk.com/one-step-at-a-time
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