Health matters: midlife approaches to reduce dementia risk

This guidance published by Public Health England makes the case for action in midlife to promote healthy lifestyles that can reduce the risk of dementia.

The guidance states that dementia risk reduction will

  • save the health and social care system money by reducing the prevalence and impact of dementia across the population
  • support people to live longer, healthier lives, and
  • impact on costs associated with non-communicable diseases such as heart disease or stroke.

The guidance recommends reducing the risk of or delaying the onset of disability, dementia and frailty by helping people to:

  • stop smoking
  • be more active
  • reduce their alcohol consumption
  • improve their diet, and
  • lose weight if necessary and maintain a healthy weight.

Public Health England has launched the One You campaign aimed at people aged 40-60. It aims to motivate people to take steps to improve their health, through action on the main risk factors such as smoking, inactivity, obesity, alcohol consumption, all of which are relevant to reducing the risk of dementia.

The guidance encourages Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to use the dementia profile produced by the Dementia Intelligence Network to look at local risk factors for dementia such as smoking prevalence, physical inactivity, excess weight and alcohol-related hospital admissions. This will help to prioritise efforts to reduce such risk factors. The data also shows local uptake of the NHS Health Checks.

The guidance recommends that health and social care providers and public and third sector providers, such as local authorities, leisure services, emergency services, should all:

  • use routine appointments and contacts to identify people at risk of dementia
  • promote healthy behaviours during times in people’s lives when substantial change occurs, such as retirement, or when children leave home, and
  • give people advice on how to reduce the risk factors for dementia whenever the opportunity arises.

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