Project at University of Wolverhampton to promote brain health in Chinese communities

08 February 2022

Thanks to a £25k funding boost from Alzheimer’s Research UK’s flagship public outreach scheme, the Inspire Fund, an important new programme of work will start across the UK to promote good brain health to those living within Chinese communities.

Dementia is a condition caused by several diseases and it affects one in 14 people aged over 65 years old. By 2026, the number of Chinese people in the UK over the age of 65 will exceed a quarter of a million, and it’s forecast that 18,215 of them will be living with dementia.

Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Think Brain Health initiative currently provides 40 simple, everyday tips for better brain health as well as quizzes, information, and blogs about how to stay brain healthy.

The tips are centred around three pillars of brain health: love your heart; stay sharp; and keep connected. Tips include cleaning around the house, learning a new language, making plans with an old friend, swapping a cocktail for a mocktail and joining a club.

Relatively little work has been carried out to engage Chinese communities across the UK with brain health and ways they can help reduce their dementia risk. Now, Dr Jennifer Lim at the University of Wolverhampton will work with five community groups across the UK to adapt the campaign to meet the needs of Chinese communities.

This will include work to address the language barrier by translating existing printed materials in the Brain Health campaign into Mandarin and delivering the information in appropriate languages (Cantonese, Hakka and Mandarin. The team will also co-produce culturally appropriate materials with the communities, discuss dementia, and provide a platform to bring the community organisations serving the needs of the Chinese people in the country together.

The project is a partnership of five community organisations in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool, and the University of West England. It will lay the foundation for systematic intervention and future research in this community. The new funding will provide training and support for key leaders within the community organisations about brain health.

Dr Jennifer Lim, who is leading the project from the University of Wolverhampton, said:
“Research has shown that there are positive steps we can take to reduce the risk of dementia by looking after our brain health, but without culturally appropriate materials, this message would fail to reach everyone in a multi-cultural UK. We’re delighted to receive this grant from Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Inspire Fund to ignite discussions about dementia and to raise awareness about brain health in Chinese communities. This project will build vital capacity and knowledge in Chinese community organisations about dementia and co-create engaging materials to build understanding of brain health.”

This £25,000 project forms part of the charity’s Inspire Fund, which provides funding for projects that engage the public with dementia and the life-changing research going on into the condition. Projects funded in this year’s round are particularly geared towards engaging with underserved audiences, building knowledge in brain health and engaging people with progress in dementia research.

Tim Parry, Director at the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK said:
“The Inspire Fund is an innovative way for Alzheimer’s Research UK to fund grassroots outreach projects and support communities doing important work building understanding of dementia. We are delighted to fund this ambitious project to help our Think Brain Health initiative reach more people within Chinese communities in the UK.

“Think Brain Health is all about letting people know how incredible the brain is and, whatever your situation, there are things you can do to help look after it. There’s no one sure-fire way to prevent dementia but research shows that keeping your brain healthy, especially in midlife, can help to reduce the risk of the condition. Looking after your heart health through regular exercise, a healthy diet and not smoking is key to good brain health. Keeping connected with friends and family and staying sharp by keeping your brain active also has benefits.

“It’s paramount that these important messages, advice and tips reach as many people as possible.”