Driving progress in dementia risk reduction by rallying health stakeholders around ‘brain health’.
We know that up to 40% of dementia cases worldwide could be prevented or delayed, yet there is still limited understanding in the UK of the potential to reduce the risk of developing dementia.
In response, leading experts and organisations in the field have come together in support of the potential of ‘brain health’ to change the narrative and are now calling for it to drive further public engagement and policy action.
Beyond dementia risk reduction: a consensus statement on Brain Health
Reframing dementia risk reduction as brain health
The evidence shows that the UK needs to radically shift its perceptions around how people can influence their risk of developing dementia, as only a third of people (33%) realise that there are steps that they can take to reduce their risk. This is also something that needs to be considered at every stage of a person’s life, not just as they approach old age.
Improving public understanding of brain health is a crucial step if health professionals and policymakers are to make changes to help individuals reduce their risk of dementia.
We want more people to fully understand the relevance of brain health to healthy ageing and lowering the risk of developing long-term conditions such as dementia. Our recent report, “Brain Health: A new way to think about dementia risk reduction” found considerable public appetite and messaging potential for brain health, but a lack of agreement on what the concept was.
That’s why in May 2021, Alzheimer’s Research UK hosted a virtual roundtable to amplify the brain health conversation and develop a shared understanding of the concept.
A new cross-sector consensus on ‘brain health’
The roundtable brought together researchers, policy makers, health professionals and people with lived experience of dementia, as well as other participants working in the fields of dementia, prevention and public health.
The resulting statement outlines the authors’ and signatories’ support for the concept of brain health and the potential it has to offer. It sets out the principles of brain health and key policy recommendations for a brain health framework for public health in the UK.
Key messages and recommendations include calling for:
- A life-course approach to the prevention of ill health and promotion of good brain health.
- Expanding policies beyond cardiovascular health to cover the breadth of relevant risk factors, in addition to strengthening support for existing policies that improve brain health.
- Government and the NHS to prioritise brain health in the new dementia and health promotion strategies.