The outlook for dementia is changing, and so are we

Headshot of Alzheimer's Research UK's Chief Executive, Hilary Evans.

By Hilary Evans | Tuesday 23 May 2023

There is a new optimism in the field of dementia in 2023. The research breakthroughs of the past few years have culminated in a new generation of treatments emerging. For the first time, we have the prospect of drugs that act on the disease processes that cause dementia, rather than helping with symptoms alone.

Alongside these treatment developments, there is a revolution in disease detection that promises to vastly improve the benefits of these new drugs. The earlier we can intervene with treatment, the more likely we are to change the lives of those affected, keeping them connected to their families, their worlds and themselves for longer. With accurate early detection we can also improve the design of clinical trials, ensuring the right people take part, getting to the next answer more quickly.

We are also beginning to embrace lifelong brain health in the UK. Hundreds of thousands of people have completed our Think Brain Health Check-in, a ten-minute review of brain healthy behaviours. It marks a moment when we are beginning to understand that the brain is an organ we can help protect in the same way as our heart.

And with renewed commitments from Government to support dementia science and our work alongside the NHS and industry in preparing for the arrival of new treatments, we are gaining ground in the dementia challenge from every angle. The outlook for dementia and its impact on individuals, families and society is changing.

We should celebrate this change and what it means for the many lives blighted by the condition. But, more importantly, we must take inspiration from these developments and redouble our efforts. We have made chinks in the armour of dementia, and this needs to provide impetus for greater successes.

Sadly, nearly a million people are living with dementia in the UK today, and our latest analysis tells us that 1 in 2 are destined to either develop the condition, or to care for someone who has, or both. We are in a race against time as the condition spirals among our ageing population. At Alzheimer’s Research UK we are committed to ensuring the steps we’ve taken in research over the past few years become giant strides in those ahead.

We have a new sense of urgency fuelled by opportunity. This has culminated in a fresh look for Alzheimer’s Research UK, which will provide a bold new foundation for us to step up our campaigning. We are proud to launch this next chapter today. Like many of you reading, dozens of us here at the charity have their own personal experiences of dementia, including me. We hear from the thousands of supporters and families that we work with that you, like us, want to see the same hope for dementia that’s been created in the fields of cancer and heart disease. In past years, many of us thought these diseases were intractable, but now we know different. There are chances. There are survivors.

For dementia, we must target the same. So it’s time to believe in a cure, and to set a course to reaching it. It won’t happen overnight, but along the way many lives will be changed, and then lives will be saved. We stand for no less than this, and we know you stand with us too.

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About the author

Hilary Evans

Hilary is Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, which is a charity working at a global level to find a cure for dementia. The organisation’s aim is to raise awareness of the diseases that cause dementia, to increase dementia research funding and improve the environment for dementia scientists in the UK and internationally.