Can we talk about reducing your risk of dementia? Reply

Dementia is big news, and for many people has replaced cancer or heart disease as a concern they take forward into later life.

There are around 90,000 people in Scotland living with dementia, and that number is predicted to double within the next 25 years. The impact on our core interest – Scotland’s people – is immense. So too is the threat to the practical considerations we cannot ignore – health and social care budgets and planning.

Even a small reduction in these numbers, or a delay in onset of dementia, would mean thousands of people, and their families, avoid a condition which can be challenging and distressing for all concerned. So it troubles me that too few people are aware that dementia is a disease, not an inevitable part of ageing.

As with cancer, stroke and heart disease there are lifestyle factors which influence your chance of developing dementia. The good news is that this means there are actions you can take to reduce your risk. The science of dementia prevention is not so well established, but it may be that taking action now can reduce your dementia risk by a third.

This is why a number of voluntary organisations are coming together under the Dementia DEFENCE banner to highlight that what you smoke, eat or drink, how physically and socially active you are, and generally the extent to which you live well and healthily can significantly impact your risk of developing dementia. Crucially how you live now affects your later health, so don’t put this off until later.

What we would like to do is to follow the example of cancer, heart disease and stroke and ensure that every strategy to deal with the disease has a clear prevention element, to sit alongside care and cure. This being a relatively new area I suspect this will not be the case with the imminent dementia strategy for Scotland, but I hope that in time this will be rectified.

In the meantime we are looking for groups of adults to help in exploring how we can construct dementia prevention campaigns that will be effective in reaching communities, to raise awareness and encourage action in response.

We are looking to arrange discussions with a wide range of groups of adults, ideally around the 40s, 50s and 60s age range. We can tell you about the lifestyle changes that can reduce your dementia risk, but we also want to hear from you about your views on dementia, what would inspire you to take action to reduce your dementia risk and what we can do to help and encourage you.

As well as our information and our thanks we can provide some refreshments for the meeting. It will just take an hour of your time.

Interested? Contact Mike Andrews at ASH Scotland 0131 225 4725 mandrews@ashscotland.org.uk

This blog originally appeared on the Health and Social Care Alliance’s viewpoints page.

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