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

The case for dementia risk reduction has never been stronger; we know now up to 40% of global dementia cases could potentially be prevented or delayed. Despite good efforts there is still limited understanding among the public of the potential to reduce the risk of developing dementia.

We collaborated with Alzheimer’s Research UK to investigate the potential of 'brain health' to reframe dementia risk reduction. Our findings showed that ‘brain health’ has the potential to help far more people start taking steps to reduce their risk of dementia. Over two-thirds of UK adults believe they can influence their brain health.

Our report makes the case for introducing the term ‘brain health’ as a new way for the public and policy-makers to engage with and discuss dementia risk reduction.

Two in three (69%) UK adults

believe they can influence their brain health

Almost nine in ten (86%)

agree that brain health is about

keeping the brain working properly

Nearly 60% of UK adults

stated they stay mentally active to improve or maintain brain health

Recommendations

  •  A funding commitment to implement cost-effective interventions to reduce risk factors
  • A targeted public awareness-raising campaign
  • Creation and provision of brain health resources and education for healthcare professionals
  • Embed brain health within existing health care services
  • Fund more research on ways to reduce dementia prevalence
  • Embed brain health across the life course by working with school and employers to raise awareness and understanding.

Christina Marriott, Chief Executive of RSPH, said:

“With Alzheimer’s Research UK we are calling on the Government to develop a national brain health strategy. There are almost one million people in the UK living with dementia today, but it is estimated that this number will nearly double to 1.7 million by 2040.

We know that up to 40% of global dementia cases could be linked to 12 risk factors that we may be able to influence. That’s why we’re asking Government to act now to prevent dementia overwhelming our health and social care system, and to prevent the harm to individuals and their loved ones."