International Public Holds Many Misconceptions About Dementia

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The general public has a limited understand of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new review in Ireland.

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin and St. James Hospital’s Dementia Services Centre examined 40 research articles from 15 countries published over the last 20 years. The most common misconception uncovered was that dementia is a normal part of aging and uncertainty about what point age-related memory loss becomes so severe it can be considered dementia.

In addition, there was little awareness there are risk factors, such as high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol, that could be changed to lessen the chances of developing dementia, the researchers reported in the journal Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders.

The worst understanding of dementia was found among racial and ethnic minority groups. Also, women were better informed than men, as were people who were more educated. The researchers say the results point out the need for governments to include dementia risk reduction programs into public health campaigns.

“Lack of public understanding of dementia has negative consequences for both the individual coping with the symptoms and for family caregivers,” Suzanne Cahill, PhD, Director of the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre at Trinity and who led the research, said in a statement.

“The individual may experience stigma, embarrassment and ridicule due to negative societal attitudes and retreat from activities once enjoyed and the caregiver may experience social isolation since neighbors, friends and family gradually withdraw, not knowing how to behave.”

Depression Independent of Neuropathology of Dementia
There was little awareness there are risk factors, such as high blood pressure, that could be changed to lessen the chances of developing dementia.

Believing that dementia is a normal part of aging is the most common misconception about dementia, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Trinity College Dublin and St James's Hospital's Dementia Services Centre in Ireland.

In a systematic review of 40 research articles from 15 different countries including Northern Ireland, published over the last 20 years, researchers at Trinity's School of Social Work and Social Policy have found that the general public had a limited understanding of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.

The most common misconception among the general public was that dementia was a normal part of aging and there was a lack of clarity about at what point normal age-related memory loss becomes severe enough to indicate dementia.

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