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What is dementia and how can you reduce your risk?

Lifestyle choices including not smoking, eating a balanced diet, staying active physically and mentally, and keeping weight down can cut the risk.

As a study suggests abstaining from alcohol in middle age could raise the risk of dementia in later life, here are the answers to some key questions about the condition and its impact on sufferers and society.

– What is dementia?

Dementia is a term covering symptoms caused by a group of diseases. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause, but other forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.

– How is it treated?

At the moment there is no cure for dementia; however, there are number of lifestyle choices that can help reduce risk factors. They include not smoking, eating a balanced diet, staying active physically and mentally, and keeping weight down. Alzheimer’s Research UK also recommends not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

– How many people in Britain suffer from dementia?

An estimated 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, making up 62% of the total.

– Who gets it?

The majority of people with dementia are over 65; however, more than 40,000 people under 65 have dementia in the UK. Dementia has a bigger impact on women, with more than 500,000 living with the condition in Britain. It is the leading cause of death among women in the UK.

– What is the impact on services and how much does it cost?

A quarter of hospital beds are estimated to be occupied by people over 65 with dementia. The annual cost of dementia to the UK economy is more than £26 billion.

– How is this forecast to change?

In the UK, the number of people over the age of 85 is set to double from 1.3 million in the next 20 years. In that time the number of people with dementia is expected to grow rapidly. By 2025 there could be more than a million Britons suffering from dementia.

– How much will it cost?

The cost of dementia in Britain is expected to more than double in the next 25 years to £55 billion in 2040.

Figures from Alzheimer’s Research UK

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