A new Scottish Social Attitudes report has revealed that attitudes in Scotland to people living with dementia are largely positive, with most people not seeing it as a stigmatising condition.

The survey, which was carried out by the Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen), also showed that a large majority of people are very aware of dementia and the challenges it can bring for families. Nearly three quarters of people in Scotland – 74% – said that they know or had known someone with dementia, with almost 4 in 10 (37%) saying that a partner or a member of their family has or had dementia.

There was also a very high percentage of people who believed that dementia should be a priority for Government spending, particularly around care and support.

The survey was commissioned and funded by the Life Changes Trust, who previously commissioned a similar survey in 2014. Current figures show that, since 2014, there has been a significant increase in public awareness around risk factors associated with developing dementia, such as high blood pressure and smoking. However, almost a quarter of people still believed that there was nothing they could do to decrease their risk of getting dementia.

“There are definitely marked improvements in public knowledge about dementia in general, undoubtedly related to the increase in diagnosis rates, raising of public awareness and more news coverage over the last few years,” said Anna Buchanan, Director of the Life Changes Trust dementia programme. “It is also encouraging that Scots appear to have a generally positive attitude towards people living with dementia and their carers, and that they see care, support and prevention as priorities for Government spending. There is also a clear message that, as a nation, we believe that people with dementia have the right to lead a fulfilling life. 

“Clearly, however, there are still gaps in knowledge around making connections between lifestyle and health when it comes to dementia and a still relatively low understanding that taking action now may prevent some types of dementia in the future. There are also still issues of stigma that need to be tackled, particularly in the work place. Scotland clearly wants to do its best by people with dementia, but we need to keep these issues on the public and political agenda in order to create the best lives we can for those affected by dementia.”

The Life Changes Trust was established by the Big Lottery in April 2013 with a ten year endowment of £50 million to support transformational improvements in the quality of life, well-being, empowerment and inclusion of people affected by dementia and young people with experience of being in care. Click here for more information about Life Changes Trust.

Read the full report, Public Attitudes to Dementia: Scottish Social Attitudes 2017, here.

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