One in three unaware of dementia risk

A new research study has revealed that one in three people (35%) are not aware that having diabetes increases the risk of developing dementia.

The study also found that just under half (46%) of those surveyed were unaware that the risk of developing dementia can be potentially reduced.

The study, which was conducted by Trinity College Dublin between December 2016 and February 2017, examined data from over 500 respondents evenly divided between people with diabetes and members of the general population.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Catherine Dolan, from Trinity College Dublin, working with the Dementia: Understand Together campaign, believes the study highlights a lack of awareness of brain health complications that can arise as a result of diabetes and also the need to inform and educate people about the steps that they can take to potentially reduce their risk of developing dementia.

“Although awareness of diabetes as a risk factor for dementia was somewhat higher among people with diabetes, overall one in three of those surveyed were unaware that dementia can be a complication of diabetes. While there is greater awareness of the potential impact of diabetes on organs such as the kidneys and eyes, unfortunately there is much less awareness that having diabetes increases a person’s risk of developing dementia two-to-three-fold. Also concerning is the finding that just under half are unaware that there are steps we can take that may potentially reduce our risk of developing dementia.

“These findings are particularly worrying given that the number of people with diabetes in Ireland is set to increase over the next 20 years mainly due to obesity, sedentary and inactive lifestyles and our ageing population. A report by the Institute of Public Health in 2010 entitled ‘Making Chronic Conditions Count’ predicted a 62% increase in the number of people with diabetes in Ireland by 2020.

The website www.understandtogether.ie provides information for people who are interested in finding out about dementia. The website features a service-finder detailing county-by-county the dementia supports and services available. It also offers a range of training resources for carers and for businesses and organisations in the retail, transport, public and financial sectors. Support packs, including posters, leaflets and badges, can also be ordered.

The Dementia: Understand Together initiative is led by the HSE in partnership with The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Genio.  It is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the HSE’s Health and Wellbeing Division.  The funding for the campaign is €2.7m over three years.  This has been augmented with additional investment and contribution in terms of staff and management resources from the HSE. Dementia: Understand Together is supported by over 30 partner organisations across Ireland including from the retail, transport, banking, health, voluntary and community sectors. These organisations play a key role in creating compassionate communities that actively embrace and include those living with dementia and their families.