Dementia is an important public health challenge in Scotland. We partner with national and local agencies to tackle the health inequality challenges facing people with dementia, their families and carers. You will find information below on

  • the National Dementia Strategy
  • the NHS Health Scotland and Alzheimer Scotland Dementia and Equality evidence paper
  • self help books and DVDs created jointly with Alzheimer Scotland.
  • Around 64% of people affected receive a diagnosis.
  • Around 3.5% of people affected are under the age of 65.
  • As of 2015, up to 90,000 people in Scotland were affected by dementia.
  • As the population ages, the number of people with dementia is steadily increasing as the risk of development increases with age.

You may want to read more data on dementia on the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) website (external).

Dementia and health inequalities

There are few large scale studies that have looked at social inequalities in dementia. Currently there is limited evidence that suggests that dementia is socially patterned. It is known, however,  that health inequalities persist into old age and that many of the risk factors for dementia are associated with socio-economic disparities in mortality and morbidity. It is possible, therefore, that as the age structure of the population changes social patterning in dementia may become more apparent.

Data on the prevalence of dementia also shows variations by personal characteristics such as

  • gender - 67% of people with dementia are women, most likely because women live longer than men
  • age - dementia risk increases with age. Estimated prevalence rates increase from 0.1% of people under the age of 64 years to 15.9% of people aged over 80 years
  • learning disability - dementia rates are higher amongst people with a learning disability and onset is often younger. Up to 75% of people with Down's Syndrome over the age of 50 years of age develop dementia
  • ethnicity - the estimated prevalence rates for dementia in the black and ethnic minority community are similar to the rest of the population with the exception of early on-set (presenting before 65 years) and vascular dementia which have been found to be more prevalent.

We partnered with key stakeholders to examine evidence of effective interventions to raise awareness of dementia amongst people for whom challenges might arise in receiving a diagnosis. The results of this collaboration can be found in our ‘Dementia and Equality’ briefing paper.

National and local action

National dementia strategies

Dementia has been a national priority in Scotland since 2007. 

The first national dementia strategy (2010-2013) focused on improving the quality of dementia services through more timely diagnosis and better care and treatment.

The current strategy (2013-2016) takes a human rights approach to ensure that high quality, person centred care is provided from diagnosis to end of life.  The strategy has 17 commitments and acknowledges that different approaches are needed to ensure everyone receives a timely, accurate diagnosis of dementia and post diagnostic support.

The strategy commitments were shaped by the priority outcomes of the Scottish Government’s National Dementia Dialogue (external website). This was a national conversation organised by the government in partnership with key stakeholder groups.

Dementia and Equality evidence paper

We are part of the National Advisory Group on Dementia and Equality, which has published a report which explores the evidence on equalities and dementia and practice within Scotland. The report offers suggested recommendations to assist in reducing inequalities for people living with dementia and their families.

The Standards of Care for Dementia in Scotland

The quality of dementia care services is governed by the Standards of Care for Dementia in Scotland. You can read the standards on the Scottish Government’s website (external). The standards are for people with dementia and their carers to understand their rights and ensure they receive the support they need to stay well, safe and listened to.

Dementia support resources

In partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, we produced a range of free resources to support people with dementia, their carers and people working in the field.  These books and DVDs are based on the experiences of people with dementia and their carers and provide a range of information and advice.

You can contact us with queries about dementia.