Guardian Dementia

This page shows the latest items from the Guardian Dementia newsfeed.

Lifestyle changes could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases – study

Addressing 12 factors such as excessive drinking and air pollution exposure may have significant effect, experts say

Excessive drinking, exposure to air pollution and head injuries all increase dementia risk, experts say in a report revealing that up to 40% of dementia cases worldwide could be delayed or prevented by addressing 12 such lifestyle factors.

Around 50 million people around the world live with dementia, including about 850,000 people in the UK. By 2040, it has been estimated there will be more than 1.2 million people living with dementia in England and Wales. There is currently no cure.

Related: Lifestyle changes could prevent a third of dementia cases, report suggests

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30 July 2020, 4:30 pm

Modern footballers could be at greater risk from head injury, says academic

  • The Field study was commissioned by the FA and PFA
  • Modern players not at any less risk than predecessors

Modern footballers could be at greater risk of neurodegenerative disease from head injuries than their predecessors, the academic leading a landmark study into the phenomenon has said.

The Field study, jointly commissioned by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association to study dementia and other neurological diseases among retired players, last year observed a risk of such conditions three and a half times greater than among the general population.

Related: Coventry announce plans for new ground on Warwick University campus

The modern ball stays light, but if you hit it and it travels faster and lands at a higher speed it may be causing more problems

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21 July 2020, 11:05 pm

MPs urge backing for UK medical research fund

Life Sciences-Charity Partnership Fund aims to reverse impact of Covid-19 on study into biggest killers

At least 50 cross-party MPs are calling on the government to back a UK medical research fund they say will reverse the devastating impact of Covid-19 on research into the UK’s biggest killers, including dementia, coronary heart disease and cancer.

The Life Sciences-Charity Partnership Fund, developed by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), has the support of politicians including Labour’s Hilary Benn, Ed Davey from the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives’ Sir Roger Gale. They are asking the government for £310m, which would be matched by funding from charities for at least three years.

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19 July 2020, 11:01 pm

Please, Matt Hancock, let us see our loved ones with dementia | Nicci Gerrard

The health secretary has said family members can visit soon. Why won’t he say when?

Ten days ago, in response to a letter from seven dementia charities and organisations, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that the ban on visits to care homes was “coming to an end very soon”. That brought a huge sense of relief to the thousands of family carers who have been unable to see their relatives for almost four months. But since then: nothing. Was it an empty promise, a disgraceful piece of window dressing? Perhaps the health secretary could tell us what “very soon” means; how many days are there in “a few days”?

Related: How did we end up turning our care homes into jails of enforced loneliness?

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19 July 2020, 6:30 am

Care costs in England should be capped, says social care adviser

Sir Andrew Dilnot says uncapped care costs leave families at risk of losing assets

Care costs should be capped at £45,000 a year in England and more cash ploughed into provision for the poorest in society, according to Sir Andrew Dilnot, who has advised successive Conservative governments on reform.

The measures to bring care funding closer into line with the NHS would cost an extra £3.1bn a year – a 14% increase on councils’ social care budget – Dilnot said in evidence on Tuesday to the House of Commons health and social care committee.

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14 July 2020, 1:08 pm

Eight in 10 people living alone with dementia completely isolated since March

A third of people with the condition feel like ‘giving up’ due to lockdown, says survey

Eight in 10 people living alone with dementia have seen no family or friends since March, while tens of thousands more regularly spend up to a week without having a single in-depth conversation, research has found.

The largest ever survey by the Alzheimer’s Society reveals that about 56% (510,000) of those with dementia, and 80% (96,000) of those who live alone with the condition have been completely isolated since the coronavirus lockdown began.

Related: How did we end up turning our care homes into jails of enforced loneliness?

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14 July 2020, 5:00 am

Barbara Pointon obituary

Dementia campaigner who won a landmark case to receive NHS funding for care at home

NHS continuing healthcare, or CHC, is a funding programme for frail and ill people that can be worth thousands of pounds. Only those in care homes with trained nursing staff were eligible to receive it until 2004, when Barbara Pointon, who has died aged 80, won a landmark case. It established that CHC could be provided to people in any setting, including in their own homes, opening the door to thousands who might now qualify for funding.

In 1991 Pointon’s husband, Malcolm, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 52. She retired as a music lecturer and threw herself into caring for him with characteristic verve and empathy, and when the Alzheimer’s Society approached the couple in 1995 about a documentary, they agreed to take part. Pointon said they wanted to “blow the doors and windows open” on what was still a misunderstood disease.

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12 July 2020, 3:17 pm

Call to treat relatives of dementia patients like key workers

Letter from UK charities calls for families to be given access to care homes and virus testing

Relatives of dementia patients should be treated as key workers so they can visit their family members and be tested for coronavirus where necessary, leading charities in the UK have told the government.

The heads of organisations including Dementia UK and the Alzheimer’s Society have signed a letter to the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, calling for visits to resume safely and for relatives to be given the same “key worker” access to care homes and coronavirus testing as staff, the BBC reported.

Related: Coronavirus near me: are UK Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area

(February 25, 2020) 

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10 July 2020, 8:32 am

Japan: hundreds with dementia who went missing in 2019 yet to be found

Ageing population in the spotlight as of the more than 17,000 people with the illness who went missing last year, the whereabouts of 245 remains unknown

Hundreds of people with dementia who went missing in Japan last year are yet to be found, the National Police Agency has announced, highlighting the growing problems associated with the country’s rapidly ageing population.

A record 17,479 people with dementia went missing in 2019, with 245 still unaccounted for.

Related: ‘I still dream of my husband’: life with dementia in Japan – photo essay

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3 July 2020, 4:39 am

Care home residents and staff to get regular Covid-19 tests

Elderly and dementia home staff will get tested weekly and residents every 28 days after fresh evidence of higher risk

Staff and residents in care homes for people over 65 and those with dementia will receive regular coronavirus tests from Monday, the government has announced.

Staff will be tested for the virus weekly while residents will receive a test every 28 days. The new measures will be in addition to intensive testing in any care home facing an outbreak or an increased risk of a surge in cases.

Related: Covid-19: risk of death in UK care homes 13 times higher than in Germany

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2 July 2020, 11:01 pm

Calls for national care service as crisis leaves homes in critical state

Government urged to seize chance of reform, amid closure fears and claims NHS left some homes to fend for themselves

Senior care leaders are calling for urgent reform of the way Britain’s elderly population is looked after with the creation of a new national service.

As care homes emerge from the worst of the first wave of the pandemic, bodies representing owners, staff, residents and their relatives have all urged Boris Johnson to deliver on the pledge to fix social care that he made on the steps of Downing Street after becoming prime minister 11 months ago.

Related: Caring for the vulnerable of Scarborough: a photo essay

Every party has said how important social care is, and every one of them has kicked the can down the road

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28 June 2020, 5:53 am

Scientists link bowel inflammation to higher risk of dementia

Study is latest to find high degree of correlation between gut health and mental health

People living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have more than twice the risk of developing dementia, researchers have revealed in the latest study to link gut health to neurological diseases.

A growing body of research suggests changes in the gastrointestinal tract may affect the brain through two-way communication known as the gut-brain axis.

Related: The human microbiome: why our microbes could be key to our health

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23 June 2020, 10:30 pm

Stop calling family carers a 'hidden army'. We're not invisible, just ignored | Mina Akhtar

Successive governments have repeatedly overlooked the contribution of unpaid carers and failed to meet their needs

Mel  lives with her son, who has learning disabilities and depends on his mum for round the clock care. Ayesha resigned after her request for flexible working hours – in which she highlighted her struggle to balance work and caring commitments for her mum, diagnosed with dementia – was rejected. Nate has been a carer for his dad, who lives with multiple sclerosis, since a young age.

Related: Unpaid carers were isolated even before lockdown – now we’re invisible

Related: Sign up for Society Weekly: our newsletter for public service professionals

Mina Akhtar is a doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham 

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10 June 2020, 7:31 am

Extra 10,000 dementia deaths in England and Wales in April

People with dementia ‘just switching off’ amid reduced medical care and family visits

There were almost 10,000 unexplained extra deaths among people with dementia in England and Wales in April, according to official figures that have prompted alarm about the severe impact of social isolation on people with the condition.

The data, from the Office for National Statistics, reveals that, beyond deaths directly linked to Covid-19, there were 83% more deaths from dementia than usual in April, with charities warning that a reduction in essential medical care and family visits were taking a devastating toll.

Related: How did we end up turning our care homes into jails of enforced loneliness?

Related: Isolated UK care home residents ‘fading away’, say staff and families

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4 June 2020, 11:01 pm

'A lot of benign neglect’: how Ghana’s social changes are isolating older people

The modernising economy is changing family structures – but can ‘western’ residential homes be accepted culturally?

After breakfast on a Friday morning, a small group of elderly people are engaging in gentle exercises – walking to one end of a walled compound and back. Some of them need the assistance of nurses or walkers, or both, to complete the journey.

“Usually, we do this a couple of times but it is a little bit cold today so we are going just once,” says Henry Ofori Mensah, administrator at Comfort For The Aged, a residential care home in Kasoa, a dormitory town west of Accra, Ghana’s capital.

At the turn of the century, a facility like this would have been hard to imagine in Ghana.

Related: ‘All we can offer is the chain’: the scandal of Ghana’s shackled sick

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26 May 2020, 9:15 am

Research reveals gene role in both dementia and severe Covid-19

Having two copies of e4 variant of ApoE gene linked to double risk of severe Covid-19, study suggests

People with a genetic mutation that increases the risk of dementia also have a greater chance of having severe Covid-19, researchers have revealed.

The study is the latest to suggest genetics may play a role in why some people are more vulnerable to the coronavirus than others, and could help explain why people with dementia have been hard hit: dementia is one of the most common underlying health conditions among those who have died from Covid-19 in England and Wales.

Related: Study of twins reveals genetic effect on Covid-19 symptoms

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26 May 2020, 4:00 am

Quarter of Covid-19 deaths in English hospitals were of diabetics

NHS’s first breakdown of underlying health conditions also finds 18% had dementia

One in four people who have died in hospital with Covid-19 also had diabetes, the NHS’s first breakdown of underlying health conditions among the fatalities shows.

Of the 22,332 people who died in hospital in England between 31 March and 12 May, 5,873 (26%) suffered from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, NHS England figures reveal.

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14 May 2020, 6:22 pm

Isolated UK care home residents 'fading away', say staff and families

Many confined to their rooms and forbidden visits in effort to contain coronavirus outbreak

Care home residents confined to their rooms and forbidden visits from loved ones are giving up on life and “fading away”, say staff and families.

Most care homes across the UK have been in lockdown since early March, with residents isolated in their bedrooms behind closed doors. Many are denied visits from their families, even to see them through their windows.

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14 May 2020, 4:48 pm

How did we end up turning our care homes into jails of enforced loneliness?

The rights of the most vulnerable, including those with dementia, should not be violated

Last week, driving to the shops, I passed a care home and saw a figure standing at an upstairs window: an old woman looking out at a world she could not enter. She looked like a prisoner. And in a way, that’s probably what she was.

Let’s talk about old people. Let’s talk about people in care homes, about people living with dementia and dying with dementia, out of sight and out of mind, and what the lockdown means for them. Let’s talk about what we are not talking about enough, not thinking about enough, not caring about enough.

Time changes the meaning of isolation for someone who is old and vulnerable and may not have much time left

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10 May 2020, 7:30 am

'We did what we set out to achieve': the staff who moved into care homes

At Sheffield’s Bridgedale House there have been no Covid-19 cases, but it means some workers have not seen their families for weeks

Care assistants who moved in to a home to shield its vulnerable residents have managed to prevent any deaths or infections from Covid-19.

Five weeks ago Kirsty Scott left behind her two young children and moved into Bridgedale House care home in Sheffield, but she’s missing her family more than ever.

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28 April 2020, 12:54 pm