Facts for the media about dementia
Key facts and statistics on dementia and other dementia related topics can be found here.
Please note, this page is for journalists. If you are looking for general information about dementia, support, Alzheimer’s Society or fundraising, please see our contact page.
The Alzheimer's Society press office offers a service to journalists who are looking for information and interviews about dementia, research and fundraising initiatives.
For journalists and media enquiries only, please contact our press office.
What is dementia?
Dementia is the UK's biggest killer.
Dementia is not a normal part of ageing and its not just about forgetting things. It is a group of symptoms caused by different diseases that damage the brain. The symptoms get worse over time and include:
- memory loss
- confusion and needing help with daily tasks
- problems with language and understanding
- changes in behaviour
Alzheimer's Society has produced a symptoms checklist, endorsed by the Royal College of GPs, to support people to get a vital diagnosis.
Types of dementia
There are many types of dementia but Alzheimer's disease is the most common. The next most common is vascular dementia.
Alzheimer's disease is a physical illness which damages a person's brain. It starts many years before symptoms start to show. Early symptoms are mild and so don't stop someone doing their normal everyday activities. It's only later that symptoms become severe enough to be called 'dementia'.
Other common causes of dementia include vascular disease, which prevents blood from getting to the brain properly, and Lewy body disease.
Just as with Alzheimer's disease, these diseases develop in the brain over many years. Eventually they lead to vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia.
About dementia diagnosis
There is no single test used to diagnosis dementia. A diagnosis is usually based on several tests and assessments. This could include mental ability tests and brain scans, but it varies for everyone.
For many people, getting a dementia diagnosis can be quite simple and take just a few weeks. For others it can take much longer - sometimes more than a year.
Dementia diagnosis rates hit a five year low during the pandemic and have been slow to recover. Thousands of people are facing the realities of dementia alone, without access to the vital care and support that a diagnosis can bring.
Timely diagnosis is crucial to access treatment and support that can help people manage dementia symptoms and avoid ending up in crisis.
How many people in the UK have dementia?
One in three people born in the UK today will develop dementia in their lifetime. A report in 2019, commissioned by Alzheimer’s Society from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), found there are currently around 900,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million people by 2040.
70,800 people living with dementia in the UK developed symptoms before the age of 65.
It is estimated that 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems. It is estimated that 60 per cent of people who draw on support from homecare are people living with dementia.
More than 25,000 people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the UK are affected by dementia.
How many people in the world have dementia?
There are 55 million people living with dementia around the globe. It is estimated that this number will rise to 139 million by 2050.
How much does dementia cost in the UK?
Dementia costs the UK £36.7 billion per year. This is set to rise sharply to £94.1 billion by 2040.
Unpaid carers supporting someone with dementia save the UK economy £14.6 billion a year. This will rise to £35.7 billion in 2040.
The cost of social care for people with dementia is set to nearly treble by 2040, increasing from £16.9 billion to £45.4 billion.
Dementia costs can be catastrophic for families too. An individual with dementia spends an average £100,000 on social care.
Dementia is one of the main causes of disability later in life, ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Is there a cure for dementia?
There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease or any other type of dementia.
Existing drugs available in the UK only treat the symptoms of dementia. They do not treat the root cause of the diseases that cause dementia, and so do not slow down how quickly it gets worse.
However, we are at a tipping point in dementia research. Research will beat dementia but we need to make it a reality sooner - through funding, more partnership working and more people taking part in dementia research.
Simple blood tests to detect Alzheimer's and new drugs which could slow down early-stage Alzheimer's disease are just around the corner.
There are 141 drugs in trials for Alzheimer's disease - 111 of them aiming to slow down the progression of the disease.
Lecanemab and donanemab are the first drugs for Alzheimer's disease which have been shown to slow down the changes in thinking and memory people experience in the early stages of the disease. They are not yet available in the UK. The MHRA and NICE will make decisions on whether these drugs will be approved in the UK, based on patient benefit, safety and cost effectiveness.
Research Alzheimer's Society funded 30 years ago led to the treatment breakthroughs we're seeing today, and research we fund now will be pivotal in unlocking more breakthroughs.
However, despite dementia's impact and prevalence, research into the condition is desperately underfunded and there are not enough dementia researchers.
Decades of underfunding means dementia research lags at least 20 years behind the progress we've made in cancer - just 31p is spent on dementia research for every £1 spent on cancer research.
The National Dementia Mission - the government's commitment to double dementia research funding to £160m by 2024 - must be delivered urgently. This crucial investment must boost research for all types of dementia so that no one is forgotten.
What does Alzheimer’s Society do to support dementia research?
Alzheimer’s Society has invested over £94m into dementia research in areas such as treatment, diagnosis, innovation and care, providing hope for the future while transforming lives today.
As a founding funder of the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI), Alzheimer's Society remains a proud funding partner of the Institute.
Alzheimer's Society's research led by Sir Joh Hardy over 30 years ago discovered the importance of amyloid protein in Alzheimer's disease. It laid the foundations for billions of pounds of investment into many of the drugs like lecanemab and donanemab, with 111 other drugs currently in trials.
In 2022 Alzheimer’s Society, Innovate UK and Challenge Works launched The Longitude Prize on Dementia, a £4m prize fund to find innovators who can create ground-breaking technologies to help people with early-stage dementia.
How does Alzheimer's Society support people living with dementia?
Alzheimer’s Society helps people make the most of life with dementia, supporting them through some of the hardest and most frightening times. We provide hope for the future by campaigning to make dementia a priority and funding groundbreaking dementia research, innovation and care.
Our services include out expert Dementia Advisers, dedicated Dementia Support Line (0333 150 3456) and online Dementia Support Forum.
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