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The Challenge of Dementia: Part 1

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Topics: 
dementia awareness, education and training, exercise

On a damp, dark evening in November around 80 people came together at County Hall to think about how to meet the challenge of dementia. People came from all parts of Nottinghamshire, from many different organisations and backgrounds, each with a personal or professional interest (or both) in dementia.

The presentations are available from Nottinghamshire County Council’s website (http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/care/health-and-wellbeing/health-and-wellbeing-board/stakeholder-network-events).  Speakers included Professor Tom Dening, University of Nottingham, on how research helps people with dementia.

The theme of government policy is 'living well with dementia’ and this is the challenge.  Nottinghamshire has achieved most of the 17 objectives in the National Dementia Strategy published in 2009, and has a comprehensive range of services. However, approaches to dementia care move on and ideas change. We now have the Prime Minister's Challenge 2020 and a new set of recommendations to address. The meeting in November focused on 5 of these: reducing risk, Dementia Friendly Communities, care after diagnosis, the role of Primary Care and carers.

So, first, how do we reduce our risk of getting something we understand so little about? It’s well known that there is a link between smoking and lung cancer, alcohol and liver disease but the public health messages about the risk factors for dementia aren’t as well known. What is public health doing about that? One thing is the NHS Health Check which is your chance to get a free midlife MOT. For adults in England aged 40-74 the Health Check aims to help people live longer healthier lives, and everyone who has an NHS Health check is made aware that the risk factors for cardiovascular disease are the same as those for dementia. People who are aged between 65 and 74 and have a health check also get a leaflet with information about dementia.

So, how do we bring about those simple changes in lifestyle that are so important? The evidence is that people know what behaviours help promote a healthy lifestyle: stopping smoking, becoming more active, drinking less alcohol and improving diet. It sounds simple enough and these behaviours can also reduce our risk of getting dementia, especially vascular dementia.

Here’s a link** to Physical activity benefits for adults and older adults which helpfully advises us to be more active, sit less and something is better than nothing! So I have made a New Year’s Resolution to be more active, sit less and eat more healthily. Specifically I have joined an exercise class, taken up swimming again and got out my pedometer to increase my daily steps. What will you do this year?

 

* http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/nhs-health-check/Pages/NHS-Health-Check.aspx

** https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/469457/Physical_activity_infographic.PDF

 

 

 

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