Worried about dementia? Then here’s some very good news.

If you live in the UK you are likely to worry more about developing dementia in your retirement than those in any other country. That’s according to research by the global insurance company AEGON.

To put it in numbers, two in five in the UK have anxieties about developing dementia compared to one in three globally.

But why such a high level of worry?

Perhaps it has it has a certain Job-like resonance. If you remember, Job sat on a refuse tip, scratching his skin with pieces of broken pottery, when he said, ‘What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true.’ 

Why had he been in such dread? Nothing in his life beforehand had justified his worrying. He was a successful businessman, a leader in the community, and a patriarch of a large prospering family.

His worrying was all based on ‘what if…’ Perhaps he was influenced by what he saw happening to people around him. And perhaps that’s how it is in the UK regarding fear of developing dementia.

Though not so much what we see but, rather, what we read and hear. And we’d worry less if we could see our way past so much myth and misunderstanding about the condition. So let me give you some good news.

It’s not as prevalent as you may think: You may have read there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. However, that figure is not based on evidence: Rather, there are currently ‘only’ 537,000 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK according to dementiastatistics.org.

Why is that number so wrong? It’s because the inflated figure comes from 1980s projections when dementia was thought to be rolling in like a tsunami. It’s a supposition, not a fact.

The numbers are falling and not rising: Studies quoted in the New Scientist Live show the number impacted by dementia has dropped by a fifth over the past two decades. To quote, ‘Four out of five large studies in different European countries have now suggested our chance of getting dementia by any particular age is less than that of previous generations.’

Though the number impacted in the UK has stayed the same, the percentage is less due to the increase in population. This is probably due to the growing focus on healthy living and preventative measures. These include dealing with loneliness, depression and stress, with studies showing that depression slows blood flow to the brain and people who suffer chronic stress in midlife are more likely to develop dementia.

Indeed, a 35 yearlong study of men living in Caerphilly showed those who stuck to healthy living guidelines saw their risk of dementia more than halved.

So this could be a good time to stop worrying. Especially as research increasingly shows that people with a negative view of being old are more likely to be unhappy, have more health issues in their later years, and have earlier deaths.

So beware of being a Job. And keep in mind those words from the Bible’s book of Proverbs, ‘Above everything else, guard your heart; for it is the source of all of life’s consequences.’ Proverbs 4:23 CJB.

The answer seems to be – take the Scriptures seriously; eat and live sensibly, and watch what you are thinking and reading.

Louise Morse

For some wise advice on heath take a look at the AfterWorkNet webpages on Health and Fitness. And if you have insights or questions on the issue of dementia do share them here or with our Facebook group.

Louise Morse is a popular speaker and writer about old age, including dementia, and follows current research on the issues. She’s media and external affairs manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity giving practical and spiritual support to older people.


  1. A very useful article about dementia. It does sometimes seem that dementia is increasing at an alarming rate in the UK. So thanks for the more accurate stats. Great relief to know!!

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife