New figures suggest that the number of people with young onset dementia has increased by 69% since 2014
“Dementia is a huge and growing health crisis and with rising numbers, it is now more urgent than ever that families receive the specialist support they need." Dr Hilda Hayo, chief executive, Dementia UK
The UK has a “hidden population” of 70,800 people with young onset dementia (YOD), according to an analysis of figures by the charity Dementia UK.
The analysis found that the number had risen by 28,800 (69%) since 2014. The number of people with YOD – which refers to those whose symptoms begin before the age of 65 – now represent 7.5% of all those living with a dementia diagnosis.
The figures analysed by Dementia UK are based on a recent study carried out by researchers from the neurology and dementia intelligence team in the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. The team arrived at the 7.5% figure by analysing datasets from GP practice records in England.
Dementia UK is calling for better awareness of YOD and the need for age-appropriate services. Dr Hilda Hayo, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We know that young onset dementia is poorly recognised and misdiagnosed which leads to delays in accessing crucial support. Worryingly, the figure of 70,800 adults who are estimated to be living with the condition in the UK, may just be the tip of the iceberg.
“Dementia is a huge and growing health crisis and with rising numbers, it is now more urgent than ever that families receive the specialist support they need. Right now, our specialist dementia nurses, known as admiral nurses, are providing life-changing support for families affected by all forms of dementia. I want to encourage all families affected by young onset dementia who are seeking support to visit our website for information and resources and to access our national Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline and Clinics services.”
Dr Janet Carter, associate professor of old age psychiatry at University College London, who led the research, said it was a “misconception” that dementia only affects older people: “The figure released today using our findings as a basis shows we need to do more to dispel this myth. Lack of crucial support could negatively impact on not just the individual living with young onset dementia, but also the whole family.”
An ageing population has made a rise in the numbers of people with dementia inevitable. It is concerning, however, to see that the number of younger people with dementia is also increasing sharply. Because the condition is easily misdiagnosed, more awareness of symptoms is needed among both clinicians and patients. Dementia patients need special care and targeted resources, so early diagnosis is essential. Algorithmic detection studies have been promising over the last few years, implementation in wider clinical settings could help us understand YOD and identify new treatment options.