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Alzheimer’s Research UK says improving brain health must be included in NHS reforms

ALZHEIMER’S Research UK says the government must focus on improving the public’s brain health to reduce the number of people developing dementia and its strategy to reform the NHS.

The Department of Health and Social Care has unveiled its proposals to improve health and care services for all, focusing on prevention.

Alzheimer’s Research UK welcomes plans to help keep people in better health longer and hopes improving the public’s brain health will become a key priority for the government.

There are almost one million people in the UK living with dementia today, yet there are no treatments to slow, stop or prevent the diseases that cause the condition – which is causing tremendous pressures on the NHS.

The 2020 Lancet Commission on dementia suggests that up to 40% of dementia cases could be linked to 12 risk factors that we may be able to influence, including high blood pressure, physical inactivity, smoking, low social contact and depression. This highlights the important opportunity to reduce the number of people developing dementia in the future.

The charity recently launched Think Brain Health, a bold new awareness campaign to empower people to keep their brains healthy throughout life and ultimately, help reduce their risk of dementia. And its policy report on brain health, developed with the Royal Society for Public Health, recommends creating a national brain health strategy to enable everyone to take positive steps to look after their brains throughout life.

The report calls on the government to take this opportunity to embed brain health messaging for all age groups, implement cost-effective interventions that promote brain health and fund more research into dementia prevention.

Susan Mitchell, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We welcome the government’s plans to put a spotlight on prevention as part of its NHS reform strategy, and we hope improving the public’s brain health will be a key focus. Without life-changing preventions and treatments, one in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime.

“Research suggests up to 40% of dementia cases could be linked to factors we may be able to influence, and the government has an unmissable opportunity to significantly reduce the number of people developing dementia as a part of its health reforms. By ensuring the public has vital information about the steps they can take to improve their brain health, we can enable people to stay in better health for longer, while also alleviating the pressures dementia puts on the NHS.

“Following the successful launch of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Think Brain Health campaign, it is clear that people are keen to engage with activities that can reduce their risk of developing dementia. That’s why we’re urging the government to work with Alzheimer’s Research UK to develop a national brain health strategy to raise much-needed awareness, implement cost-effective interventions to improve brain health, and fund more prevention research. We hope the government will commit to working with us on this as part of its renewed focus on prevention.

“We also support the government’s plans for a new model of care, with empowered local leadership and more integration with non-health services could lead to improvements in diagnosis and treatment, that people with dementia desperately need. But it needs to be set up in the right way.”

To find out more about Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Think Brain Health campaign, please visit: thinkbrainhealth.org.uk.

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