Tag Archives: dementia

Charity calls on government to commit 1% of annual cost of dementia to research

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, is calling on government to adopt a bold new action plan to bring about a life-changing dementia treatment and improve the lives of people with the condition. The charity is urging government to commit to spending just 1% of the annual cost of dementia on research into the condition by 2025 to transform research efforts.

Alzheimer's Research UK logoThe call comes as the charity launches its new Make Breakthroughs Possible campaign and pledges to commit a further £250m to dementia research by 2025. Dementia is the leading cause of death across the UK and the number of people living with the condition is expected to grow to 1 million in just three years. Alzheimer’s Research UK believes there is no time to lose if progress is to be made for the millions of people with dementia and their loved ones across the UK.

The plan detailed in the charity’s new report, “No time to lose: An action plan for dementia,” sets out five clear actions designed to bring about a new dementia treatment and improve lives. The call for increased investment in dementia research aligns the condition with investment in other major disease areas.

Dementia currently costs the UK economy £26bn each year, much more than other major health conditions, like cancer which costs £18.7bn. In contrast, only £83.1m, or 0.3%, of the annual cost of dementia is put towards researching the condition compared to 1.4% put towards cancer research.

Increasing funding for dementia research to just 1% of the cost of the condition would accelerate breakthroughs similar to those made in conditions like cancer in recent decades, which have already transformed thousands of lives.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Dementia is the health crisis of our time. With no way to stop or slow the diseases that cause it, no-one has yet survived dementia but we hope to change that.

“We’ve seen progress in recent years thanks to the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia launched in 2012, but without renewed government priority given to dementia, this momentum risks being lost. Dementia has been conspicuously absent from priorities set for the health system in recent months, and we cannot afford to let the condition slip off the radar at this critical time.

“We must see government ensure dementia is a leading health priority and begin to push for the progress seen in the treatment of diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS over recent decades. Spending just 1% of the cost of dementia on research would make breakthroughs possible, and the thousands of families across the UK who are feeling the impact of dementia deserve nothing less.”

The action plan laid out by Alzheimer’s Research UK aligns its goals with the G8 ambition to bring about a life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025, which the UK government helped to set in 2013.

The plan includes five key actions for government:

  1. Commit 1% of the annual cost of dementia to research
  2. Double the number of scientists and volunteers taking part in dementia research
  3. Work to detect the diseases that cause dementia before symptoms appear
  4. Increase awareness of how people can reduce their risk
  5. Prepare now for future treatments so they reach people quickly.

The report can be read in full at: alzheimersresearchuk.org/actionplan.

20,000 young people become Dementia Friends

The Scout Association and Alzheimer’s Society have teamed up to empower young people to help those living with dementia.

20,000 ScoScouts become Dementia Friendsuts have become Dementia Friends, joining the biggest ever social movement to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia. As part of the ‘A Million Hands’ partnership’ between Alzheimer’s Society and The Scout Association, which started in October 2015, Scouts in all four corners of the UK have taken action on dementia.

The partnership will culminate in the Big Moment, where Scouts up and down the UK will unite to deliver a Dementia Friends Information Session in their community throughout April – May 2018, educating and empowering people to take action to tackle stigma around the condition.

Claire Jenkins, Head of Community Engagement at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Someone develops dementia every three minutes, but too many face it alone. There is a lot of fear and stigma still surrounding dementia. The goal of this project with The Scout Association is to ensure that young people are spreading awareness in their communities so that society can better understand the condition – today and in the future.

“Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends helps ensure that people know the issues and challenges that people with dementia face, and can take small actions to help them live a life they love in their community. We’ve found that by working with the Scouts Association, parents feel more comfortable talking about the condition, and young people are empowered to do what they can to help.”

Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. It affects 850,000 people in the UK, with this number set to reach one million by 2021. But too many people with dementia are isolated and face the condition alone.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends helps to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding around dementia that means many people with the condition experience loneliness and social exclusion.

Claire Bruce, Beaver Scout Leader, said: “I’ve really enjoyed seeing the interaction between young people and people with dementia. With an ageing population, this an issue that is important and which is only going to become more relevant. Being a Dementia Friend is something our Scouts chose, and as active citizens, want to know more about.”

There are over 2.4 million Dementia Friends across England and Wales growing the dementia movement and taking action in their communities. But Alzheimer’s Society argues that more people are needed, from every age group, to end the stigma surrounding dementia. Young people and The Scout Association play a crucial role in ensuring that people with dementia feel included, supported and empowered in their communities.

Become a Dementia Friend by attending a Session or watching the video at Dementiafriends.org.uk. Find out more about the ‘A Million Hands’ project at Amillionhands.org.uk.

Research reveals postcode lottery of care

Responses to a Freedom of Information request to local authorities have revealed a worrying postcode lottery of care, Royal London has revealed.

Royal London logoThe insurance company contacted 150 local authorities, of which 125 responded. The replies show a huge variation in both the amount councils will pay towards care home costs, and the extent to which people have to ‘haggle’ with their local authority to get a good deal.  Elderly people who enter care in a ‘crisis’ situation and do not have family members to advocate on their behalf could lose out when it comes to negotiating care fee packages, according to Royal London.

The research identified three different approaches taken by local authorities to funding care:

  • Authorities which have a fixed ceiling for care home funding which they will not exceed, regardless of actual care costs
  • Authorities which have a published ceiling but which regularly exceed it on a case-by-case basis
  • Authorities which say they have no set fee limit but negotiate each placement on a case by case basis

Commenting on the findings, Dominic Carter, Alzheimer’s Society Senior Policy Officer, said:  “The unacceptable postcode lottery of care that people face nationwide has been exacerbated by a lamentable lack of funding from Government. Local authorities have been left with precious little resource to provide the care people with dementia need.

“Because people with dementia have such complex needs, places in care homes are on average seven to ten per cent more expensive – but the rates local authorities pay hardly ever recognise this additional cost. On top of this, the report today highlights how much local authority funding differs across the country, heaping even more financial pressure on families in unlucky postcodes.

“The Government says it is committed to reforming social care, but we need to see enough funding to provide good quality, affordable care for everyone with dementia, no matter where they live.”

Steve Webb, Director of Policy at Royal London, added: “We have uncovered a disturbing patchwork of support for people needing residential care, which varies hugely depending on where you live.  The most worrying variation is the extent to which residents are expected to haggle with the council in some parts of the country.

“Whilst responding to individual needs and circumstances sounds like a good thing, it is very likely that older people who have vocal family members to support them will be able to strike a better deal. Local authorities must be very careful to ensure that they do not take advantage of the poor bargaining power of vulnerable elderly people, leading them to accept the cheapest care provision rather than the most suitable”.

Celebrities urge public to unite against dementia

Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the public to set aside their differences – from age to tastes and social standing to political allegiances – and unite in the fight against dementia, as it’s set to become the 21st century’s biggest killer.

Jo Brand and James Cracknell

Celebrities and sports stars including Jo Brand, James Cracknell, Meera Syal, Robbie Savage and Uriah Rennie are backing the biggest ever campaign from Alzheimer’s Society calling on people to come together to defeat dementia. The campaign is also being supported by Richard & Judy, Carey Mulligan, Hugh Dennis and Sally Lindsay.

The charity launched the campaign on 24th April with a TV advertisement voiced by acclaimed actor Bill Nighy at its heart.

Directed by Oscar and BAFTA-nominated Daniel Barber (Harry Brown, The Tonto Woman) and set to an original score by Will Gregory of Goldfrapp, the ad plays upon issues that can cause divisions in society including age, gender identity and whether people voted in or out in the recent EU referudum. It shows opposing pairs coming together to unite against dementia.

In support of the campaign, two of the UK’s biggest commercial TV channels ITV and Channel 4 united to premiere the campaign ad – the first time the two have worked together on an advertising premiere for a charity.

Someone develops dementia every three minutes and there’s currently no cure – but the charity says people with dementia tell them that they face dementia alone.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We’re determined to bring everyone’s attention to the massive injustice faced by people with dementia and their carers, with too many denied the support they need.

“Alzheimer’s Society hears day in, day out about people with dementia and their carers struggling. Some people tell us about the impossible choices they have to make, from the carer having to choose between a knee operation and caring for her Mum, to a man with young onset dementia who had to give-up work and ask his daughter to pay the mortgage.

“We urgently need people to unite with us to improve care, offer help and understanding to those affected and find a cure. Together, we can bring about change.”

Ex-Wales international footballer Robbie Savage lost his dad, Colin, to younger onset dementia – which affects more than 40,000 people in the UK under 65 – when he was only 64, after being diagnosed at 58.

Robbie added: “People think dementia is an old person’s condition but it isn’t. My dad was struck down in his prime. Dementia can affect anyone anywhere.

“It was so painful to witness my hero and best friend gradually slip away. In the end he couldn’t speak, swallow or recognise me at all. To see him like that was devastating for the whole family. That’s why it’s so important for me to get involved with this campaign.”

Research conducted by the charity and Ipsos MORI reveals a great deal of fear exists around dementia – just under half (44%) of people fear dementia more than any other health condition. It also reveals a deeply concerning lack of public understanding about the biggest health crisis facing society. Only a fifth (22%) of people know that dementia is a condition that results in death while 28% wrongly believe there is a cure.

Jo Brand, ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society, told us: “It’s deeply worrying that every three minutes someone develops this devastating condition. What’s almost as worrying is despite not being able to prevent it, cure it or even slow it down, the funding of dementia research is far too low. We need everyone to unite against dementia and change this now.”

James Cracknell, who is joining forces with Jo Brand to support the campaign, added: “It’s now time for us to come together and unite against dementia with Alzheimer’s Society. We owe it to our children…this is important!”

Alzheimer’s Society is the leading dementia charity. Unite now at alzheimers.org.uk.

Study suggests Mediterranean diet may have lasting effects on brain health

Alzheimer's Society logoA new study shows that older people who followed a Mediterranean diet retained more brain volume over a three-year period than those who did not follow the diet as closely.

The study was published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers gathered information on the eating habits of 967 Scottish people around the age of 70 who did not have dementia. Of those people, 562 had an MRI brain scan around age 73 to measure overall brain volume,  grey matter volume and thickness of the outer layer of the brain. From that group, 401 people then returned for a second MRI at age 76. These measurements were compared to how closely participants followed the Mediterranean diet.

A Mediterranean diet includes large amounts of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans and cereal grains such as wheat and rice, moderate amounts of fish, dairy and wine, and limited red meat and poultry.

Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “There is an increasing amount of evidence to indicate that eating a healthy diet that’s rich in oily fish, fresh veg and nuts is good for your brain and can help to maintain your memory as you get older. Our brains shrink by 1-2% per year in old age and this study suggests that a Mediterranean-style diet could also potentially help to slow down this shrinking process.

“While the evidence suggests a Mediterranean diet can help keep your brain healthy as you age, we can’t yet say that it prevents dementia. What’s good for you heart is also good for your head and a healthy lifestyle that features regular exercise, a balanced diet and not smoking can help to lower your chances of dementia.”

To find out more about Alzheimer’s disease and the work of the Alzheimer’s Society, visit www.alzheimers.org.uk.

Golfer to help dementia charity

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Oliver Walmsley

A professional golfer is raising money for dementia research by donating cash for every birdie he plays in 2014.
 
Oliver Walmsley, 20, from Leicester, was inspired to help Alzheimer’s Research UK after seeing two of his grandparents battle with the condition.

He hopes to increase the amount he raises by persuading others to sponsor his challenge.

Oliver, who plays at Cosby Golf Club, is in his second year as a professional and is due to play in around 30 tournaments in the UK and overseas in 2014. His season kicks off with two tournaments in Morocco in March.

Oliver plans to donate £1 for every birdie he makes, and is asking others to match his donations with sponsorship.

His parents also plan to raise money through events at their Leicester restaurant, Chef Patron.

Oliver explained: “My granddad passed away with Alzheimer’s six years ago, and then two years ago my nan was diagnosed with the disease, so I know how devastating its effects can be.

“I wanted to do something to support dementia research, but instead of cycling or running, I thought I would use what I do for a living to raise money.

“I usually average four or five birdies per round in each tournament, and I’ll donate £1 for each one – but if I can get even 10 people to pledge to sponsor me for the same amount, then I can raise much more.

“Everyone has been really supportive of the idea so I hope lots of people with sponsor me, and I want to get the word out to as many people as I can.

“This is a really important cause for my family, and we want to do as much as we can to help the dementia research experts.”

Miranda Johnson, head of corporate and community partnerships at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This such a creative fundraising challenge, and we couldn’t be more grateful to Oliver for harnessing the power of his golf skills to support our work.

“Every £20 he raises will be enough to pay for another hour of pioneering research, bringing new treatments, preventions and improved diagnosis for dementia ever closer.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people living with dementia in the UK, including nearly 7,000 in Leicestershire, and research is crucial to make a difference to people’s lives.

“We rely on our wonderful supporters to be able to fund our research, and we hope the efforts of people like Oliver will inspire others to take up a fundraising challenge too.”

To sponsor Oliver, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/OllieWalmsley.