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Over-65s to be given better advice about dementia at NHS Health Checks

Kirsty MaraisClare van LyndenSusan MitchellEmily CookEmma HardwickHelen DaviesMelody Paton Borchardt

As the UK’s leading dementia research charity, one of the biggest challenges we face is raising awareness and understanding of dementia. Too often people wrongfully believe dementia is an inevitable part of ageing and that there is nothing they can do to reduce their risk.

But that’s not the case, which is why Alzheimer’s Research UK has joined forces with Public Health England and Alzheimer’s Society to dispel these myths and ensure that dementia is part of the conversation when over-65s go for their NHS Health Check in England.

Together, we have developed new training resources – including an informative slide deck and videos – to help health practitioners better deliver the message: ‘what’s good for your heart, is good for your brain’.

This comes after we discovered that practitioners did not feel fully equipped with the right knowledge or skills to discuss dementia effectively during the health check, which resulted in people failing to recall the information they had been given about the condition – despite wanting to know more.

Addressing the feedback, we designed the materials to help practitioners speak more easily to NHS Health Check visitors about dementia, by showing them how to fit the information in with wider conversations about lifestyle, health and cardiovascular health.

When attending their NHS Health Check, over-65s will also be given key actions to reduce their risk of dementia, such as:

  • regular exercise
  • not smoking
  • healthy balanced diet
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • not drinking too much
  • keeping socially and mentally active.

Following a successful pilot, we are excited to have launched the new training resources at the NHS Health Check Conference and hope these will result in an improved understanding of dementia and risk reduction. By helping more people lower their risk of dementia, we aim to reduce the number of people developing the condition in the future – just imagine what a difference that could make to people’s lives.

For more information about the NHS Health Check, please visit http://www.healthcheck.nhs.uk/commissioners_and_providers/training/dementia_training/

To learn more about how to reduce your risk, please visit http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/about-dementia/helpful-information/reducing-the-risk/

4 Responses to Over-65s to be given better advice about dementia at NHS Health Checks

  1. Avatar
    Helen Tardif 10 February 2017 at 8:03 pm #

    This is a really positive step but my mum was the cleanest eater and has always been active, doing all of the things on the list for all of her life, sadly she was diagnosed with dementia last year aged 70….

    • ARUK Blog Editor
      ARUK Blog Editor 13 February 2017 at 11:36 am #

      Thank you for your comment and we are sorry to hear about your mum. While evidence does suggest that living a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of dementia, sadly it does not eliminate it and the factors influencing risk will differ from person to person. That means some people will live very healthy lives and unfortunately still develop the condition. We do not yet know the full causes of dementia: the biggest risk factor is age, however, genes and lifestyle factors also have a role to play. As we are unravelling the causes, scientists are finding new targets for developing treatments and preventions. This is why it is so important to continue investing in dementia research, so we can move closer to finding a cure.

  2. Avatar
    Mr W A Thurlow 4 March 2017 at 3:35 pm #

    MY SISTER HAS DEMENTIA AND IT WAS SOUL DESTOYING TO SEE
    HER GO DOWNHILL VERY AGGRESIVE AND NOT BEING ABLE TO
    REGONISE THOSE CLOSE TO HER SHE IS NOW IN A HOME AS
    HER HUSBAND COULD NO LONGER COPE WITH HER AT HOME

  3. Avatar
    Brian Highland 9 March 2017 at 3:56 am #

    I have Alzeimers recently, after a life of intolerable stress, then a traumatic divorce after 30yrs unhappy marriage, and it is terrible because there does not seem to be any ordinary help or support in society. I suspect unalleviated stress is a causal factor! Also, air pollution all my life,now worse than ever, is unavoidably harmful.
    The year after I was born,the war started. I was a latch-key kid with 2 brothers and father away fighting,with bombing,and rationing for 15 years.Father was invalided home, became dissolute,drunkard,chain-smoker,gambler, we visited in prison for two terms for embezzlement.He died early of secondary cancer after a lung-removal. I did National Service aged 18, sufferred hyperthyroidism in my early 20’s, had false teeth at 24 and a thyroidectomy at 26 after 10months complete rest, which turned me into an old man overnight, hypothyrodic, when I had a wife and 2 children to support. My pulse rate had been 140,and my weight had gone to 8 stones from 12.Now, I was always cold and lacking energy.I have suffered trauma 30yrs,since acrimonious divorce after 30yrs mis-marriage.
    My younger Probation Officer brother, has just died of Alzeimers since aged 50.
    My 4yr older brother and 16yr younger sister are unaffected.
    I strongly feel stress ,air polution and meager diet are possible contributing causes of Alzeimers.

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