David Cameron has pledged to spend more than £300m on research into dementia whilst promising that all NHS staff will undergo training into understanding the condition.
The Prime Minister said that an international dementia institute would be established in England over the next five years in a bid to make the UK a world leader into a condition which now affects more than 850,000 people living in the UK.
He said: “What today’s announcement is about is a very simple but bold ambition, and that is to make the United Kingdom the best place on the planet in terms of researching into dementia, in terms of diagnosing people with dementia and then in terms of treating, helping and caring for them.”
Faster initial assessments are also included in the Prime Ministers “challenge on dementia” 2020 plans.
Dementia is now one of the greatest burdens on global healthcare systems, costing an estimated £370bn – about 1% of the world’s GDP.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a broad term which describes the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by certain diseases or conditions.
Dementia is a progressive disease. This means that the structure and chemistry of the brain becomes increasingly damaged and worsened over time. A person’s ability to remember, understand and communicate will gradually decline.
The rate at which dementia affects a person depends upon several individual factors including their physical make-up, emotional resilience and/-or the support available to them. Two people with dementia are highly unlikely to experience the condition in the same way or at the same pace.
- The chance of developing dementia increases significantly with age. One in 14 people over 65 years of age, and one in six people over 80, has dementia. It is more common amongst women than men.
- More than 40,000 younger people (under the age of 65) in the UK have dementia. This is called early-onset or young-onset dementia.
*Figures courtesy of Alzheimer’s Society UK
What can be done to prevent dementia?
The fight to prevent diabetes is an ongoing battle which has, as yet, reached no conclusion. With prevalence rates rising, the focus from many has switched from treatment to prevention.
Genetic factors are quite simply out of our control; however there are many powerful lifestyle factors that are within our powers and influence:
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- Quality sleep
- Stress management
- An active social life