Happy old peopleAlzheimer’s Research UK has created a website called ‘Dementia Explained’ to help young people better understand dementia as a new poll reveals that nearly three in ten parents in the UK say their children aged 18 and under have felt the impact of the condition. 

The website, www.dementiaexplained.org, provides child-friendly dementia information focusing on the ways people with dementia can change and the effect this can have on families. By bringing together a range of resources including stories narrated by the broadcaster Edith Bowman, videos and interactive games, the site allows young people to discover more about the brain, how it is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s and share their experiences to help others. 

A new YouGov poll commissioned by the charity has shown that nearly three in ten (29%) parents say that their children have been impacted by dementia, with 11% saying their children currently have a family member living with the condition. While there are already a number of sources of dementia information for adults, these latest statistics highlight the need for information aimed at younger people.

The website, developed with input from children and families that have experience of dementia, is divided into three sections with the content and design tailored for younger children, older children, and teenagers. The sections include illustrated online books and games for children, information about dementia research and scientific careers for teenagers and an interactive virtual tour of the brain for each age group.

The site includes a retro arcade-style game called ‘Amyloids’, also launched as a standalone app this week. Amyloids sees players learning about the biology of Alzheimer’s, while protecting the brain from the harmful amyloid protein and other proteins known to build up in the brain in the disease.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and, as large as this number is, it is far from the complete picture. Dementia doesn’t just affect individuals, it impacts whole families and communities. Despite how common it is, there are still a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding dementia. For children, especially those with a close relative like a grandparent or parent with the condition, it can be a particularly difficult experience.

“Dementia Explained uses engaging content that will appeal to children of different ages to demystify dementia and explain why and how the condition can affect someone. It’s important for young people to appreciate that changes in the way that a family member may be behaving are nobody’s fault, least of all theirs, but the result of changes affecting how the brain works. Educating the next generation about dementia is critical if we are to overcome the stigma that still surrounds the condition today.” 

The website includes quotes and experiences provided by young people who have a family member with dementia. Visitors to the site are able to submit their own experiences of dementia and post pictures, videos and pieces of writing that they might like to share with other young people.

Dementia Explained has been developed with funding from Legal & General, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Eisai Ltd.