As the UK government continues its attempts to address dementia, its plans have received a welcome boost.
The government has pledged to find a cure for the condition by 2025, owing to the massive demographic problems that dementia threatens in the future.
The number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to increase to over 1 million by 2025, and over 2 million by 2051.
However, these figures are based on a worse case scenario, and the fundamental assumption that there are no public health interventions in the intervening years.
But despite the sheer scale of action required to address demential in Britain, some good news on the issue is evident.
There has been a large rise in the number of people volunteering to take part in research studies related to the condition.
Official figures show that over the last twelve months, 22,000 people have taken part in research studies related to dementia; a 60 per cent increase over the previous year.
The increased participation in research has been documented by he National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Currently, around 100 ground breaking dementia research projects are being conducted throughout the British Isles, and scientists state that the vastly increased volunteerism related to these will greatly assist the process of seeking a cure for dementia.
The rise in participation was in part triggered by the Challenge on Dementia and Dementia 2020 Challenge; both initiatives of the existing Conservative government.
These two programmes are intended to accelerate learning on the topic of dementia, with the overarching aim of discovering a cure by the end of the current decade.
Current research projects on dementia include testing whether antibiotics slow cognitive decline, investigating the role of the immune system in dementia, identifying genetic risk factors and improving end of life care for people with dementia.
Speaking on these encouraging developments, Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman welcomed the news.
“Dementia is a devastating condition that can have a significant impact on the lives of those affected and their families. Volunteers are essential to our battle against the disease and I’m delighted that so many people – with and without dementia – are coming forward to participate in ground-breaking new trials,” Freeman enthused.
Aside from the debilitating effects of the illness, there are also clear economic incentives to tackle demential as well.
The total cost of dementia in the UK annually is £26.3 billion, and research indicates that much of this expenditure is funded by dementia sufferers and their immediate family.
Two-thirds of the cost of dementia (£17.4 billion) is paid by people with dementia and their families, either in unpaid care or in paying for private social care.