Research released by Alzheimer's Society this Dementia Awareness Week has shown widespread misunderstanding about dementia and the factors that put people at risk.
Results from a new survey show that only half (52%) of the population realise there is no cure for dementia. Approximately a third (32%) mistakenly agreed that dementia was a "natural part of ageing" and a quarter (26%) thought there was no way to reduce risk.
The survey of 2,004 people also revealed a large degree of confusion about risk factors. The vast majority (72%) thought family history put people at greater risk of dementia despite the fact this is only true in relatively few cases.
Well-established risk factors were actually rated much lower with only 35% believing that smoking increased risk and 25% linking obesity with greater risk.
Sarah Day, Head of Public Health at Alzheimer's Society, says, "Clearly there is still a shocking lack of understanding when it comes to dementia. The truth is dementia is not a natural part of ageing; it is caused by diseases of the brain and robs people of their lives.
"The good news is anyone can reduce their risk by making simple lifestyle choices. Alzheimer's Society's top tips for reducing risk are: stay active; eat healthily; don't smoke; keep a healthy weight and get regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks."