Research is showing us that dementia is caused by physical brain diseases with complex causes. While age is the biggest risk factor for many dementias, our genetics and our lifestyle also appear to play a role.
While we know that there is unlikely to be one single way to prevent dementia, unravelling these risk factors and advancing our knowledge of how they influence diseases like Alzheimer’s will allow us to develop new strategies to help people reduce their risk of the condition.
By following large groups of people over their whole lifetime, asking people to fill out surveys about their lifestyle and diet, or scouring medical records for trends linked to dementia risk, researchers are making progress.
There are now large studies ongoing across the world to develop and test interventions aimed at maintaining brain health into old age. But experts agree that there is a lack of funds available for this important area of research, that it’s a hard area to research, and that there are important questions left unanswered.
In 2014, we joined the UK Health Forum and recently a report by the Lancet Commission estimated that around 35% of dementia cases could be prevented by eliminating nine risk factors linked to the condition.
In 2017 we funded the first projects through The Mike Gooley Trailfinders Charity Prevention and Risk Reduction Fund, awarding over £2.4 million to pioneering researchers at the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester, East Anglia and University College London.