Dementia currently affects 850,000 people in the UK, and is most common in people over the age of 65.
Symptoms include memory loss, problems thinking and disorientation.
It is a leading cause of death in the UK – one in nine people die of dementia, according to recent Office of National Statistics data.
But is the condition hereditary?
“Thankfully this generally isn’t the case,” said Professor Graham Stokes, Bupa’s Global Director for Dementia Care (bupa.co.uk).
“People often think that because their parents have dementia that they will have it too.
“However, most forms of dementia aren’t hereditary although there are rare types of dementia that can be inherited.
“In these cases, the disease usually develops earlier in life; some people can start showing the signs in their 30s.
“The main risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age and with an ageing population, there’s a good chance your elderly relatives may be living with the condition.
“However, this doesn’t put you at greater or less risk of developing Alzheimer’s.”
This means there are steps you can take to reduce your own likelihood of developing dementia, or reduce its severity.
“A healthy heart equals a healthy brain,” explained Professor Stokes.
“High blood pressure, being over-weight or under-weight, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol consumption and a general unhealthy lifestyle can increase your risk of dementia.
“Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle there is evidence to suggest that staying in formal education can fight off the risk of developing the disease.
“In adult life learning a new language or starting a short course may protect against the risk of getting dementia as it could make your brain more resilient.”
Taking preventive measures early – which can include eating particular brain-boosting foods – could help.
“The warning sign of the disease often develop earlier than you would think,” added Professor Stokes.
“Alzheimer’s disease can start developing in your brain 20 to 25 years before you even notice the slightest warning sign.
“So if it starts developing in your brain when you’re 40, you won’t notice until your almost 65.”