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Dementia older couple


Dementia presents one of the biggest challenges to health and social care

By 2025 it is expected that more than 1 million people will be living with dementia in the UK. If you support people with dementia it is important to have an understanding of the condition and the impact it can have on a patient and their family.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a term that is used to describe a collection of symptoms including memory loss, problems with reasoning, perception and communication skills. It also leads to a reduction in a person's abilities and skills in carrying out routine activities such as washing, dressing and cooking.

The most common types of dementia are: Alzheimer's disease, Vascular dementia, Fronto-temporal dementia and Dementia with Lewy bodies. Information is available on the Alzheimer's Society website on types of dementia.

Dementia is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms are likely to get worse over time. The progression will vary from person to person and each will experience dementia in a different way.

Dementia statistics

The number of people with dementia is increasing and presents a significant and urgent challenge to health and social care, both in terms of the number of people affected and the associated cost.

  • In the UK there are approximately 944,000 people with dementia - this number is expected to increase to over 1 million by 2030.
  • 1 in 3 people will develop dementia in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 11 people over the age of 65 have dementia in the UK.
  • 40 per cent of people living with dementia over the age of 65 do not have a diagnosis.
  • Dementia cost the UK £25 billion in 2021. 

(Alzheimer's Research UK: Dementia Statistics Hub)

Supporting someone with dementia

Dementia has particular implications for family members or friends who are providing care and are directly affected by the changes that dementia can bring about. However it is important to be aware that with the right help people with dementia can be supported to have a good quality of life and experience a sense of well-being. 

Human rights

People with dementia and their carers (family members and friends) have the same human rights as every other citizen. However, it is widely recognised that, in addition to the impact of the illness, they face cultural, social and economic barriers to fulfilling these. This includes the right to a proper diagnosis, access to information and support from a range of informed, skilled professionals who are able to provide individualized care.

See the National Dementia Declaration and Scotland's Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities which are aimed at protecting the human rights and ensuring equal access to care for people with dementia and their family carers.

RCN SPACE principles


Number of people with dementia in the UK

Related to understanding dementia:

Professional lead for understanding dementia: