World Alzheimer’s month: Seven things you might not know about dementia

Experts explain some lesser-known facts about the condition. By Katie Wright.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, which aims to raise awareness and challenge the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia.

First off, Caroline Scates, deputy director of Admiral Nurse development at Dementia UK, points out that Alzheimer’s and dementia are not the same thing.

“Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions affecting the brain, which get gradually worse over time,” Scates explains – with symptoms commonly including problems with memory, thinking and communication, leading to a reduction in skills required for everyday living.

“There are over 200 different sub-types. Alzheimer’s disease is one of these and it is the most common form of dementia, caused by a build-up of proteins called amyloid and tau in the brain, which result in the death of brain cells.”

That’s not the only thing that’s often misunderstood about these conditions. Here, experts talk us through seven other common misconceptions about dementia…

1. Dementia can affect people at any age

While people over the age of 65 are more likely to receive a diagnosis, dementia doesn’t just affect the elderly.

“Frontotemporal dementia is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 45 to 65, though people can get it earlier or later in life,” says Fran Vandelli, a dementia lead for Bupa Care Services. “There are broadly two types of frontotemporal dementia, which usually start with changes to behaviour and emotional control, and/or problems with language.”

2. It’s not always hereditary

Just because a parent, grandparent or other family member has dementia, it doesn’t automatically mean you will get it too.

“Developing dementia isn’t inevitable, and there are so many factors that play a part in health and mental wellbeing that it makes more sense to focus on living well and staving off decline of all kinds,” says Vandelli.

“There are some rare types of dementia that can be inherited, but with these the disease tends to develop earlier in life, and in rare cases people can start showing the signs in their 30s.”

3. Diet and dementia are linked

“Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are both linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia,” Vandelli says.

Generally speaking, being overweight can mean we’re more likely to develop conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, which is why a healthy diet may help reduce your risk.

Vandelli advises: “Try to avoid processed or fatty foods – including sausages and burgers, ready meals, cakes and biscuits – as these can increase your cholesterol, which is detrimental to your blood vessels and cardiovascular health.”

4. Staying active can help prevent dementia

In addition to a healthy diet, exercise and movement – it doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout – can help reduce your risk of dementia.

“Including dancing to your favourite music,” Vandelli says. “Staying active and involved in hobbies helps maintain physical strength and dexterity. It can also help manage our weight and blood pressure and it’s great for your mental health too.”

5. A person can continue to live positively following a diagnosis

A dementia diagnosis doesn’t always mean someone’s quality of life will suddenly deteriorate.

“Many people are able to continue working, driving and living full and productive lives after a diagnosis of dementia,” says Scates. “Although there is no cure for dementia, there is specialist care.”

Vandelli agrees: “With the right support and some practical changes, it’s possible to live well with dementia. Some changes that might help include getting the right support system around them, such as family, friends and healthcare professionals,” he adds. “And supporting them to continue with their normal routines, including activities and hobbies they enjoy.”

6. You shouldn’t always correct someone with dementia

“People with dementia can become confused and disorientated, leading them to believe things that are not true – known as ‘false beliefs’ or ‘delusions’,” Scates says.

While it may be tempting for friends or family to try and correct them, that’s not always the best approach. “In these instances, it’s better to try and explain in a calm and reassuring way what’s happening without challenging or correcting them, to ease distress.”

7. Contrasting colours can help dementia patients navigate

Getting around the home can be tricky for those experiencing issues with depth and distance perception.

“Using contrasting colours can help people with dementia navigate their homes and other environments,” says Vandelli. “For example, changing the colour of bed linen or furniture can make it more easily distinguishable from the colours of walls and carpets. Highlighting the seat of a chair can give people something to aim for when sitting down, whilst strips on the edge of the table can help it stand out.”

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Flu and Covid jab begins in Scotland ahead of ‘winter wave of respiratory virus’

Health care workers and care home residents are to start receiving Covid boosters and autumn flu jabs from Monday as the autumn vaccination programme gets under way. 

Thousands of people across Scotland have already been issued appointments, with the first in line receiving the inoculation today. 

It comes ahead of an expected “winter wave of respiratory virus” with the flu possibly making a resurgence after a drop during the lockdown, the country’s national clinical director warned. 

Speaking to BBC Scotland Radio, Jason Leitch described Scotland’s current Covid infection rates as  “almost entirely good news” after cases were shown to have been at their lowest in eight months. 

Around one in 55 people in private households north of the border were estimated to have the virus in the week to August 23, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

However, Mr Leitch emphasised that a winter resurgence is expected and said: “Today’s a really important day.

“This is the autumn booster for Covid and combined in many cases with flu so it is really important that people go for their appointment or make their appointment depending who they are.”

The rollout will first see health and social care staff receive the jab, alongside the “house-bound” which includes care home residents. 

Mr Leitch said a portal has been open for some time to allow the essential workers to book an appointment for the jabs.

“The first day 35,000 of them signed up, that should tell you a little bit about how good this vaccine is if the health and social care workers want to queue up to get it,” he added. 

This rollout also marks the first time a bivalent vaccine, targeting two variants at once, will be issued to some Scots. 

The ‘Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron’ has previously been described as a ‘sharpened tool in our armoury’ to fight against Covid.

“This is a kind of standard development,” the national clinical director said. “As vaccines come on stream, as the disease changes, the vaccine companies work on a better in inverted commas vaccine.

“So this one has little bits in it that make it kind of amenable to Omicron original and Omicron new basically.

“We know the old vaccines, let’s call them, still are absolutely fantastic. They are still doing really well, most of the world is using them, they are still reducing serious disease and death by huge percentages.

“So whichever vaccine you’re offered, anywhere in the world, is the one you should get.”

Speaking on new variants, he added:”The most important thing is what happens next and we are beginning to see new variants pop up with new numbers, but nothing so far.

“The trick is if they give it a new greek letter, that’s more worrying. So if they just give it a new number attached to the old greek letter, don’t panic.

“If they give it a new greek letter you’ll have to have me in to talk about it probably and we don’t want to have to learn the greek alphabet using Covid as our excuse of course.”

Following the first group, the vaccine programme will then invite over 65s after which the over 50s will be able to book their appointment. 

It is hoped that all groups will receive their vaccine by the end of the year with the rollout taking place in smaller centres.

Asked if there is a plan for a larger rollout for younger age groups if there is a “massive covid outbreak in the winter”, Mr Leitch said: “There is always. So the joint committee looks at the disease, the status of the people with immunity, where the immunity is going up or down all of that.

“So everything needs to be kept in reserve, we don’t know what will happen with variants, we don’t know. The doomsday scenario, of course, and this isn’t to scare anybody we don’t expect it to happen but what if we get one from somewhere else in the world that escapes our vaccine and that sets us back.

“It probably won’t set us back to the beginning but it might set us back a little so you’ve got to have everything in reserve.”

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Hospital smoking ban comes into effect in Scotland

Scots could face fines from today if they are caught smoking within 15 metres of a hospital building. 

The new rule is the latest step in the Scottish Government’s plan to create a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034.

It also supports the voluntary smoke-free hospital grounds policy introduced in 2015.

Anyone found lighting up with 15 metres of a hospital building could face a fixed penalty notice of £50, or a fine of up to £1,000 should the case end up in court.

The rule applies to NHS hospital settings used for patient treatment and care, and includes a ban on smoking beneath overhanging structures.

Public health minister Maree Todd said: “Everyone knows that smoking is bad for our health and hospital patients in particular should be protected from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

“This new law is the latest step in our bold plan to make Scotland tobacco-free by 2034 – building on our dedicated stop-smoking services and early intervention measures to stop youngsters picking up the habit altogether.

“Anyone looking to quit can contact the NHS QuitYourWay Helpline or speak to their local pharmacy to discuss the range of help available.”

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Warning over kidney dialysis home costs

Scots with kidney disease who dialyse at home could be forced to skip vital treatments amid soaring electricity costs.

Thousands of patients with kidney failure rely on dialysis to keep their blood clean and prevent a toxic build up of waste products and fluid.

Many use home dialysis machines to avoid thrice-weekly trips to hospital and maintain a better quality of life.

However there is concern some patients may be choosing whether to eat or treat their kidney disease due to the energy crisis.

The charity Kidney Research UK said it was “deeply concerned” that patients may skip sessions to save on energy bills.

International research has shown that patients who miss treatments have a 68% higher mortality rate.

Patients on dialysis can also become very cold as blood is circulated outside of the body and cooled and then returned.

Stephen Blom, a former champion cyclist, has been told his kidney transplant is now failing after seven years and he is likely to require to start full time dialysis by next month.

READ MORE: Scotland faces ‘industrial energy crisis’ as firms’ power bills soar 

He said: “When you get to the dialysis stage all your body heat goes away, you are constantly freezing.

“When I first went onto dialysis I never had the heating off. It could be a Summer’s day and you will have several layers on.


“If you have got the machine at home, you are having to be on it for five hours, three times a week.

“Nobody is really stepping forward and saying to us ‘don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.’

“What the NHS does do is you are allowed to apply for partial rate but it’s very minimum.

He added: “For anyone going on treatment most people are on Universal Credit because it’s very difficult to have a job at the same time.

“Some people do it but it’s very hard.

READ MORE: Fuel bills to cost more than mortgage payments next year 

“The cost of peoples’ outgoing is already high. They actually do food banks in certain parts of the hospital to help patients out. It’s discreet because people don’t want to be seen.”

Mr Blom, who lives in Paisley, has IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease,  a kidney disease that occurs when the antibody Immunoglobin A builds up in the kidneys, causing inflammation that damages kidney tissues. 

“I was told when I got my kidney transplant that it would last ten years but unfortunately it’s now starting to fail,” he said.


“IgA rips your kidneys to pieces over time so I’m now down 10% [in function].

“They have said I’ll have to go onto dialysis sooner rather than later.

“Initially I’ll doing regular bouts in the hospital but once I see the dialysis nurse I’ll request a machine at home.

“That way, I can dialyse without the pressures of having to travel to hospital [from Paisley to Glasgow] three times a week.”

READ MORE: ‘Humanitarian crisis’ if action not taken on energy bills, NHS bosses warn

Mr Blom, who set up a charity Return to Life to support patients, said he was fortunate that a friend has agreed to become a live donor meaning he may not require to go on the transplant list again.

Sandra Currie, Chief Executive of Kidney Research UK, said: “Dialysis sessions must be kept at a regular schedule for the wellbeing of the patient and we are deeply concerned that individuals may skip at-home dialysis sessions to save on energy bills. 

“Research on an international scale and in the UK has shown that patients who miss dialysis sessions were not only more likely to be hospitalised but also saw a 68% higher mortality rate than those who attended every session. 

“No one should have to choose between food, heat or their essential treatment and the current offering of additional financial support will only delay the impact of the crisis rather than fix a looming disaster.”

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Largest Glasgow Girls exhibition since 1990 opens in city

THEIR artworks are indelibly associated with Scotland’s largest city, but now a major new exhibition set to bring together the largest collection of pieces by the Glasgow Girls in more than 30 years.

The display, which opens today and runs until September 16, will celebrate the output of artists and designers such as Bessie MacNicol, Margaret Wright, and Katherine Cameron, who were among a group of gifted artists and designers working in Scotland between late 19th and early 20th Century.

READ MORE: Artist’s solo exhibition dream comes true 

Subsequently dubbed ‘The Glasgow Girls’ in 1968, they won critical acclaim in exhibitions held in Berlin, Vienna, and Turin, leading to popular demand for their art and objects to be displayed in homes and public venues such as tearooms.

However, the Glasgow style – characterised by linear motifs derived from nature – fell out of favour after the First World War and retrospectives of the era largely largely airbrushed out the contribution of The Glasgow Girls until a revival of interest in the 1990s.


The new exhibition, displaying select paintings and works of art from private collections at auction house Lyon & Turnbull’s Glasgow gallery in Bath Street, is believed to be the single biggest gathering of Glasgow Girls pieces since the highly-acclaimed 1990 exhibition held at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum in 1990.

Exhibition curator, James McNaught, associate director and head of Lyon & Turnbull’s Glasgow and west coast Scotland team, said: “The Glasgow Girls were a diverse group of talented artists who worked across a range of disciplines – most notably painting.

“This exhibition focuses on these arguably neglected artists. The Glasgow Girls achieved success both critically and commercially at home and abroad, having their work mentioned and sometimes illustrated in influential periodicals of the day, such as The Studio magazine.

“This meant that their talent was shared internationally which resulted in them showing in exhibitions all over Europe.

“At home, they held shows and produced domestic pieces of art which could be seen in many homes in and around the west of Scotland.

“We are thrilled to bring some of their works together in our Glasgow gallery. Not only were they great artists, many were close friends.

“I’m particularly pleased to see the stunning paintings by Bessie MacNicol paintings on display together.

“I doubt this many have been seen together since the exhibition at Kelvingrove in the early the early 1990s.”

The Glasgow Girls attended the Glasgow School of Art where they formed close friendships.

Many of them went on to become teachers at the art school, or to work together in studios in the surrounding areas of Glasgow.

Like their male counterparts, the Glasgow Boys, this group of women artists had trouble being accepted or appreciated by the traditional art establishments in Edinburgh.


Included in the display is a selection of rarely seen paintings by Bessie MacNicol, widely recognised as one of the most talented artists of the era.

MacNicol, who died in childbirth aged 34, was one of the first wave of women artists who travelled to Paris from the UK to study art in the late 1800s.

A delicate watercolour entitled The Flower of the Heather by Katherine Cameron will also be on display.

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The work will be offered at auction by Lyon & Turnbull in October, after the exhibition closes.

Other artists featured in the exhibition include: Stansmore Dean, Katherine Cameron, Norah Neilson Gray, Eleanor Allen Moore, Ann Macbeth, Margaret Wright, Helen Paxton Brown and De Courcy Lewthwaite Dewar.

Journalist and author Maggie Ritchie, whose third novel, ‘Daisy Chain’, was inspired by the lives of The Glasgow Girls, will also be speaking about her fiction and their work against the backdrop of the Glasgow exhibition at a special event on September 13.

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