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Dementia 'more feared than cancer' by older patients

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Older people are more fearful of developing dementia than they are of cancer, a new poll suggests.

Two-thirds of people over the age of 50 fear that they will develop the condition, while just one in 10 said they were frightened about getting cancer.

A survey asked 500 adults aged over 50 from across the UK which condition they feared the most.

Overall, 68% said dementia and 9.44% said cancer. Just 3.88% said they were frightened about getting a heart condition and 0.73% were concerned about developing diabetes.

There are around 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, but as the population ages this figure is expected to soar in coming years.

“As an increasing number of people are diagnosed with dementia more people are seeing the profound impact that it can have on both the individual as well as the wider family,” said Paul Green, director of communications at over-50s company Saga, which conducted the survey.


“However, whilst these fears are completely understandable, it’s important that education around the condition is enhanced to give a greater understanding of the benefits of early diagnosis − and how this can help those living with the condition continue to lead fulfilling lives.”

“The possibility of losing the very essence of what makes you the individual that you are is a frightening prospect”

Alison Cook, Alzheimer’s Society

Hilary Evans, director of external affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It’s no surprise to learn that fear of dementia in people over 50 is high: dementia affects over 820,000 people in the UK and we currently lack treatments to tackle the condition.

“Research holds the answer to this devastating condition and with the number of people affected set to grow as the population ages, the need for investment in research has never been more urgent,” she said.

Alzheimer's Research UK

Hilary Evans

Alison Cook, director of external affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, added: “‘The possibility of losing the very essence of what makes you the individual that you are is a frightening prospect.

“But fear can mean people don’t get a diagnosis and can often miss the opportunity to access treatments – which are only effective for people in the earlier stages of the condition – and the time to make important decisions about their future,” she said.


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Readers' comments (1)

Is a fear of dementia over other illnesses justified?

  • This is so true. Despite the improvements in research in both cancer & dementia it is the dementia that is feared most. With Cancer there is 'hope' Hope for a cure through research.
    With dementia there is no 'hope' It is a one way ticket, resulting in poor quality of life, confusion, having to be taken everywhere, usually incontinence because the person doesnt recognise the toilet, the feeling of loosing your life whilst still living it. Not recognising family & causing them distress. There are many other areas of lost life I have witnessed with dementia and I would not want to go through that
    My family know that if I am diagnosed with dementia I dont intend hanging around to see the end.

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