Working together to protect our brain health

Think Brain Health is all about the positive steps you can take to look after your brain. But we know that individual action is not all that’s needed. We also need to Think Brain Health and take action as a society.

The recent Lancet Commission on dementia highlighted 12 dementia risk factors linked to our environment and lifestyle that could contribute to up to 40% of cases of dementia. The Report tells us that it’s never too early or too late to think about reducing our risk.

However, our polling revealed that only 33% of people realise that they can influence their dementia risk, pointing to the huge impact we could have by working together across society to address these risk factors.

Here at Alzheimer’s Research UK, we’re committing to three actions:

1. Raising awareness and understanding through public engagement

We created Think Brain Health to spread the positive message that we can all help protect our brains by staying sharp, keeping connected, and looking after our hearts.

2. Turning up the volume on brain health

We will work with others to develop and promote the positive message of brain health. By working together, we can make an even bigger impact.

It’s also why we partnered with Public Health England and Alzheimer’s Society on a pilot project to demonstrate the benefit of offering dementia risk reduction messaging to people aged between 40 and 65 as part of the NHS health check.

Previously, this information was only given to those over 65, but after 80% of people involved in the pilot said the advice would have some impact on their behaviour, it will now be rolled out to all GP health checks. We want to see open and positive conversations about brain health, helping as many people as possible to understand and act on them.

We’re also proud to have our long-standing partners at parkrun and Garmin lending their backing to Think Brain Health, recognising the positive impact of keeping active on our brain health.

3. Working with government.

We understand that there are factors out of our control that can make healthy choices more difficult. Some risk factors for dementia – including air pollution and traumatic brain injury – are hard to avoid as individuals but can be addressed by wider societal action.

To help drive this effort, we’re asking government to work with us to develop a brain health strategy. It should include a commitment to implement cost-effective interventions to address the risk factors we know have greatest impact on dementia risk. We also want to see new resources on brain health for health care professionals, like GPs. We want to help them understand the latest evidence and feel empowered to support their patients in the best way.    

Brain Health: a new way to think about dementia risk reduction

Find out more about what we’re doing in this area by reading our policy report.