On Progress in Dementia Research

May 25, 2013

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease

by Gaj and Kathy Ragunathan

Research scientists in Britain and worldwide  are striving to eliminate Dementia. There are teams of scientists striving to develop preventative treatment strategies, to find new ways to diagnose the disease and ultimately, cure it. Top scientists are pursuing groundbreaking, innovative research programs and their goal is to rid the world of Dementia.

Dementia is a general term for decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life, it causes loss of brain function that occurs and affects memory, thinking, language, judgement and behaviour. Patients with dementia are often confused, they sometimes suffer mood changes and have difficulty coping with everyday tasks. There are currently 820.000 people with mental health related dementia in the UK and as the population increases so do the numbers of people who have the disease. It cuts across society and devastates families. A world-wide trend, numbers of people with dementia are doubling every twenty years. Researchers are exploring ways to care for people who suffer from it and are striving to find the best environment for patients and family support.

The British Government is tackling mental health head on.  This national crisis is being  funded through screening programs to identify the condition at an early stage. Britain is leading the world in Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease research and plans have been made to increase scientific funding. Prime Minister David Cameron stated that awareness of dementia is poor and that the levels of recognizing the disease and treating it need to be more fully researched. He was surprised to discover the vast need to raise awareness of the disease.

The Centre for Clinical Research in the UK, (the Dementia Research Centre) at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery specializes in drug trials. Drugs that slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease are tested there. The majority of dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s disease and the research team are currently working to identify the Alzheimer’s gene. Their concern is also with identifying causes that could trigger Alzheimer’s and with x-raying brain damage and studying its development and tracking its growth in Alzheimer’s. They research techniques to diagnose and track the progression of these debilitating diseases.

Universities in Britain are producing research environments for investigating causes and treatment of dementia. Alzheimer’s Scotland funds clinical and scientific research into the development and maintenance of brain tissue and the charity finances a brain tissue bank. Alzheimer’s Research is a UK charity that funds some of these studies and tries to find new ways to eliminate dementia. Its aims are to improve our understanding of all causes of dementia and explore ways to improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment. There is an urgent need to commit to the funding of resourcing and implementation of a national development strategy.

Awareness of dementia needs to be raised and understood, not stigmatized  Radical shifts in attitude are needed to help transform lives. There is a great need for quality, dementia care homes to care professionally for people experiencing the many different stages of dementia, whether it be a private or on the national health service.  Staff training is paramount in providing a supportive environment for elderly people suffering from  mental health,  remaining sensitive to their individual needs and personalities and preserving their independence as much as possible. Good dementia care homes have a duty to offer facilities tailored to their residents’ individual needs.

Image Credit: Nwardez