A Human Rights Perspective

Hilary Cragg

Dementia is a collection of diseases that have the same or similar presentation. Dementia refers to damage to the brain, which can be caused by different things, that generally affects memory and understanding, to the extent that it creates problems for the person in their day to day lives and is deteriorating. It is a terminal condition.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, the second most common kind is vascular dementia. Therefore Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, as is vascular dementia, with dementia being the overall umbrella terms for these conditions. There are many different kinds of dementia and each can have a slightly different presentation, deterioration and life expectancy.

Facts about Dementia

  • 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 has dementia

  • 70% of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory loss

  • There are an estimated 54 million people living with dementia around the globe and it is estimated that this number will rise to 130 million by 2050

  • 9.9 million people will develop dementia around the world every year

  • The total cost of care for people with dementia in the UK is £34.7billion

  • There are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.

  • Worldwide, women with dementia outnumber men two to one

  • 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 has dementia

Who is at risk?

Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, other than youth, every other demographic is affected by the disease. It affects all genders, cultures, religions etc. People who have dementia, often have other co-morbidities and so although it is a terminal disease, they often die with dementia rather than of dementia. They might either die of complications of the other condition/s that they might have or they have problems risk assessing things and can die from complications associated with an accident, such as a fall.

After Diagnosis

This diagnosis of dementia can be confusing and scary, this is the same for most people, but it can also answer the question about what was “wrong”, as people with dementia and often their families, will have realised that something has changed. However all these emotions are normal, they are not alone. Hilary, with her insight and knowledge is here to support people in their journey with information and advice.


There can be misconceptions about the disease, such as Alzheimer’s is not dementia, it is one of the kinds of dementia. People also worry that they will forget or go crazy. The disease can impact memory and they might start to forget some things, but people with dementia usually hold onto memories that are important to them and can remember people for a long time, even if they do not remember their names. Sometimes people can misinterpret their surroundings and act “crazy” or at least differently to how they would if they understood, but this does not happen to everyone with dementia.

Living well with Dementia

Importantly, it is possible to live well with dementia, to have a good quality of life and to pursue happiness each and every day, whilst still living with dementia. People should be empowered to live not just safe lives, but happy lives, doing the things that they love for as long as is possible.

Every day is a potential to make happy memories for the person with dementia and their family.


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