Data suggests that one in three people born in the UK today will be diagnosed with dementia in their lifetime. At the moment just under one million people are living with dementia in the UK, a number that will continue to increase. In recent years the approach to dementia research has changed greatly. Originally considered a part of ageing, dementia is now recognised as a disease and one that can be cured.
As a result of this change immense funding is being pumped into dementia research in order to speed up progress and develop new treatments to try and save lives in the future.
Dementia research was given a financial boost recently when Micheline Connery, widow of James Bond star Sean Connery, donated one million dollars to dementia charity Race Against
Dementia set up by Sir Jackie Stewart, a close friend of the late actor.
The funding will be used to fund a collaboration between RAD and the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam that forms part of RAD’s International Discovery Hub.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia in the UK with the exact cause unknown.
Symptoms of early-onset dementia can appear in a number of personality and physical changes.
A person with early onset Alzheimer’s may experience difficulties in their speech and language, using words incorrectly or may have trouble speaking.
Furthermore, they may experience memory loss, declined thinking speed, reduced mental sharpness, and a degeneration in judgement, movement and understanding.
These symptoms can make the conduction of daily activities more difficult while social situations may become harder as people with dementia can lose interest in their usual activities.
As the condition develops, the symptoms will become more severe and the individual more reliant on their family and friends for support and care.
Dementia is a devastating condition not just because of the toll it takes on the patient, but their family as well who are faced with watching their loved one slip further away.
There are some medicines available that can be used to treat dementia.
Although most are used to treat Alzheimer’s, some can help to temporarily lessen symptoms.
Not all treatments involve medicines with cognitive stimulation therapy and cognitive rehabilitation both employed to help alleviate the symptoms of dementia.
Cognitive stimulation therapy works by taking part in group activities designed to improve memory, problem solving skills and language ability while cognitive rehabilitation works by helping a patient to use the functioning parts of their brain to assist those that aren’t.
Aside from medicines and therapy, a study by the University of Exeter has discovered the benefits of a routine in coping with dementia.
Analysing 9000 patient records, researchers found that patients who always saw the same GP experienced improved dementia treatment.
Writing in the British Journal of General Practice, researchers discovered that people who saw the same GP were 35 percent less likely to develop delirium and 58 percent less likely to become incontinent.
Lead author of the study Doctor João Delgado said: “In the absence of a cure, long-term care is particularly important…Our research shows that seeing the same general practitioner consistently over time is associated with improved safe prescribing and improved health outcomes.”
Doctor Delgado added that this could have benefits in the long run for patients “including reduced treatment costs and care needs”.
For more information about dementia symptoms, diagnosis and treatment contact the NHS to book a consultation with your GP.
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