A dementia charity boss urged nurses to discuss dementia risk factors with patients after research found one in four thought there was nothing they could do to reduce their chances of developing the condition.
Findings in the British Social Attitudes Survey found that just 2% of people could name all the lifestyle factors which could increase the risk of dementia.
The survey for Public Health England (PHE) asked people if they could identify the dementia risk factors of heavy drinking, smoking, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes and the protective benefits of taking regular exercise.
The survey revealed that 27 per cent of people thought there was nothing they could do to cut their risks of getting the condition.
Dementia UK’s CEO and chief Admiral nurse Dr Hilda Hayo said: “I would definitely bring it up.”
She said: “I think the problem we have with dementia is we are treating it like we did cancer 20 years ago. People don’t like the “d word”.
“Nurses should not be afraid to raise dementia.”
People with diabetes are six times more likely to get dementia, she said and nurses can help patients control their diabetes.
Dr Hayo said: “Particularly for practice nurses it’s about keeping screening going and encouraging people to come for screening and telling people about the importance of sticking to the treatment and the diet.”
She said nurses can also help encourage screening, blood pressure checks and following a healthy diet to reduce the risk of heart disease. They should also raise the risks of dementia when discussing the health problems linked to drinking too much, or too frequently, she said.
Nurses can also highlight the benefits of social activity and learning new skills which could help keep dementia at bay, she said.
PHE’s senior dementia adviser Dr Charles Alessi said the report’s findings highlighted the importance of the One You campaign to “raise awareness that it’s never too late to take control of your health and provide adults with personalised tools with which to do it.”
The director of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK Dr Matthew Norton said knowing about the risk factors to empower them to make changes which could lower their chances of developing dementia.