Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about Alzheimer’s Research UK’s (ARUK) ‘Think Brain Health’ campaign.
I commend ARUK for raising awareness and understanding of this important issue, as well as informing people about the actions they can take to maintain and improve brain health.
According to the Lancet Commission on dementia, there are 12 dementia risk factors linked to environment and lifestyle that could contribute to 40% of cases of dementia. However, research by ARUK finds that only a third of people in the UK are aware that it is possible to reduce dementia risk by looking after brain health.
More needs to be done to improve our understanding of dementia. It is welcome that researchers have identified modifiable risk-factors associated with dementia. These include smoking, depression, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. I know that ARUK has established a Prevention and Risk Reduction Fund to better understand these risk factors.
In the meantime, I believe there are actions that the Government can take to improve public health and prevention. Public health services are vital to prevent ill health and promote health and wellbeing, yet funding has fallen over the last decade. The King’s Fund health think tank said years of cuts to public health funding has taken a toll on vital services. I support its calls for the Government to urgently invest in and support services to improve health outcomes.
As researchers work to find a cure, I believe we should also place an equal emphasis on the care provided to people living with dementia and the support available to their families and carers. We need a long-term plan of far-reaching reform to establish a properly funded social care system that works for older people and working age-adults. This is vital to increase access to care and to protect people from high care costs.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue. I hope the Government responds to ARUK’s campaign and sets out what plans it has to support people to look after their brain health.