National survey reveals Scots want to do their best by people affected by dementia

18 June 2015
People Affected by Dementia

A new Scottish Social Attitudes report released this week has revealed that attitudes in Scotland to people living with dementia are largely positive, with most people not seeing it as a stigmatised condition.

There was also a high percentage of people who believed that dementia should be a priority for Government spending, particularly on care and support.

The majority of people in Scotland - around 76% - said that they know someone who has (or had) dementia, with almost 4 in 10 (38%) saying that a partner or a member of their family has (or has had) dementia. However, despite these numbers, there was a relatively low level of knowledge about risk factors that lead to some diseases that can cause dementia.

The survey was funded by the Life Changes Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and highlighted the following:

Attitudes:

  • The majority of people in Scotland - around 76% - said that they ‘know someone’ who has (or had) dementia.  
  • There was a great deal of willingness to help those with dementia, with around 9 in 10 (89%) saying they would be willing to help a neighbour with mild dementia while around 8 in 10 (80%) would be willing to help a neighbour with a more severe form of dementia. This is a strong indication that people would be prepared to play a part in making their community more dementia friendly.
  • 83% of people would tell their friends and family if they were informed that they had the first signs of dementia.
  • However, despite largely positive attitude to dementia, the survey revealed that 39% of people would not tell their employer about a diagnosis of dementia. 

Health:

  • Despite the majority of people knowing someone with dementia, the survey revealed that many people were not aware that lifestyle and good health choices may prevent dementia caused by diseases other than Alzheimer’s. (Approximately 40% of people with dementia in Scotland do not have Alzheimer’s disease).
  • Just 3% of people correctly recognised all five identified risk factors for dementia (they were high blood pressure, heavy drinking, smoking, diet and family history). 
  • 45% identified either none (21%) or only one (24%) of the five risk factors correctly.  
  • Over 60% did not know that smoking or bad diet were risk factors, and over 70% did not recognise that high blood pressure was a risk factor – particularly for vascular dementia which is the second most common form of dementia in Scotland.