1 in 5 wrongly believe dementia is a normal part of ageing, survey reveals


Dementia and Alzheimer’s research
There are ways you can reduce your risk of developing dementia.

One in five Australians mistakenly believe that dementia is a normal part of ageing, according to a new survey.

While dementia is indeed more common with age, it is not a normal part of ageing and there are health behaviours that can increase or decrease the risk of developing dementia.

The findings of the Dementia Awareness Surveyreleased today, show only one in three Australians feel confident in their knowledge of how to reduce their risk of developing the condition.

The study is the largest nationally representative community survey of its kind in Australia.

Conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the survey collected information on how much people know about dementia, their attitudes towards dementia and people living with dementia.

The Dementia Awareness Survey showed that:

  • 1 in 5 (22%) Australians mistakenly believe that dementia is a normal part of the ageing process.
  • A large proportion of Australians were able to recognise some ways to reduce their risk of dementia such as being physically (77%), cognitively (77%), and socially active (70%). However, fewer than 1 in 3 Australians were confident about their knowledge.
  • Most Australians (99.6%) are engaged in one or more behaviours that can reduce their dementia risk, but generally did so for other reasons.
  • Four in 5 Australians (83%) agreed that they would be more likely to adopt lifestyle changes if they knew it may help them reduce their risk of dementia.
  • There are several commonly held stereotypes about people living with dementia. Around 2 in 3 (67%) people believed that people living with dementia needed constant supervision and that they are unpredictable (62%).
  • Positively, more than 8 in 10 Australians agreed that people living with dementia can enjoy life (83%) and that it is possible to enjoy interacting with people living with dementia (83%). Fewer than 1 in 10 people reported that they would exclude a person living with dementia.


“Dementia is a significant and growing health and aged care concern in Australia,” AIHW spokesperson Melanie Dunford said.

“More than 400,000 Australians are living with dementia and, with this number projected to double by 2058, it’s more important than ever for the community to be aware of dementia and take up lifestyle changes that may reduce their dementia risk.

“Dementia has profound effects on Australians, but despite this, our survey showed that the community generally has a poor understanding of dementia and actions that can be taken to reduce their dementia risk.”

READ MORE: Decoding Dementia – Recognising Early Signs and Distinguishing them from Normal Ageing

The survey results consistently showed that women, those with higher levels of education and income, those with a family member or friend with dementia and those who have worked with people with dementia had a higher knowledge of dementia and tended to hold less stigma towards people living with dementia.

‘The findings of the Dementia Awareness Survey echo the experiences reported to Dementia Australia by people living with dementia, their families and carers,’ said Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM.

“This work is an important step and reinforces the urgent need for raising awareness about dementia and risk reduction nationally, as well as tackling the stigma and discrimination that many people living with dementia tell us they experience once diagnosed.”

Results from the survey will help inform priorities and areas for dementia awareness initiatives and prevention activities that can reduce the risk, or delay the development of dementia.

If this story prompts any concerns, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. It’s free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.


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