Young onset dementia facts and figures

As with dementia generally, there is conflicting information about the prevalence of young onset dementia. The difficulties of diagnosing the condition at working-age mean popularly used statistics are likely to be inaccurate and do not reflect the true number of people who are affected. The facts and figures stated below relate to the UK.  

Prevalence of young onset dementia  

  • An estimated 7.5% or 70,800 of the estimated 944,000 people living with dementia in the UK are living with young onset dementia where symptoms occurred under the age of 65 
  • Estimated prevalence of young onset dementia in England is 60,000; Scotland 5,300, Wales 3700 and Northern Ireland 1,800 
  • The estimated prevalence figure for young onset dementia, where diagnosis was between age 30—64, is 92 per 100,000 of the general population 
  • Prevalence rates for young onset dementia in minority ethnic communities are higher than for the population as a whole. People from these backgrounds are also less likely to receive a diagnosis or support 
  • People with a learning disability are at greater risk of developing dementia at a younger age. Studies have shown that one in ten develop young onset Alzheimer’s disease between the age of 50 to 65. The number of people with Down’s syndrome who develop Alzheimer’s disease is even greater  

Common types of dementia in younger people  

There are differences in the types of dementia commonly diagnosed in younger people with dementia compared to those of an older age.  

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in younger people, accounting for around a third of younger people with dementia, in comparison to about 60% in the older age group 
  • Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia in young people. Around 20% of younger people with dementia have vascular dementia 
  • Around 12% of younger people with dementia have frontotemporal dementia, compared with just 2% in older people. It most commonly occurs between the ages of 45-65. In about 40% of cases there is a family history of the condition 
  • Korsakoff’s syndrome – around 10% of dementias in younger people are caused by a lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine), most commonly associated with alcohol abuse 
  • Around 10% of younger people with dementia have Lewy body dementia 
  • Around 20% of young people with dementia have a ‘rarer’ form of the condition. Examples include conditions that can lead to dementia including Parkinson’sHuntington’s disease and Creutzfeld Jakob disease 
  • Younger people are more likely to have rarer familial forms of dementia caused by genetic mutations including: familial Alzheimer’s disease, familial frontotemporal dementia and familial vascular dementia  

Useful resources