Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Getting Older Is Inevitable, Getting Dementia Isn't; Prime Minister David Cameron Has Demanded Tough Action on Dealing with Dementia as Government Funding for Research into the Condition Is Doubled. Health Reporter HELEN RAE Speaks to Experts in the North East

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Getting Older Is Inevitable, Getting Dementia Isn't; Prime Minister David Cameron Has Demanded Tough Action on Dealing with Dementia as Government Funding for Research into the Condition Is Doubled. Health Reporter HELEN RAE Speaks to Experts in the North East

Article excerpt

Byline: HELEN RAE

PRIME Minister David Cameron yesterday called for the UK to be more "dementia-friendly" to help sufferers and urged an increase in international funding for research to find a cure.

He announced that the Government is doubling funding for dementia research to PS66m, but insisted that other countries needed to step up their efforts to deal with the rising numbers living with the condition.

Yet leading dementia experts in the North East say it is essential that more is done to help highlight the social impact of the condition.

Dr Lynne Corner, a social gerontologist specialising in dementia research, and director of engagement at Newcastle University Institute for Ageing, was at the London summit where Mr Cameron made his speech.

She said: "It is of course good news that David Cameron has announced such an enormous boost to dementia research funding. Yesterday's summit would also have been the perfect opportunity to highlight the social impact of dementia as well as the health aspects.

"Dementia is not only a health issue, which is how it is often treated, it's also a social and societal challenge.

One in three people over 65 will die with dementia, and many more will know someone with dementia, whether a loved one, neighbour or co-worker. It impacts many people's lives in many different ways.

"As well as funding research to understand the causes of dementia and treat dementia, we need more funding for services that help people living with dementia, especially carers. We need to fund projects that help us understand how people with dementia can live happier, more connected lives and how carers can be helped and supported.

"There is already some great work out there, for instance projects using digital technology to help those suffering with dementia increase their engagement in society, which need public recognition, support and funding if we are going to meet this challenge."

More than 300 health and finance experts listened to the Prime Minister at a summit in London to discuss the important issue, where he warned of a "market failure" on dementia drug research and development.

Last year, the UK used its presidency of the G8 group of industrialised nations to host an international summit on dementia, which ended with experts setting a global ambition to find a cure by 2025.

Yesterday, delegates came together again for the first in a series of legacy events following the summit and were told by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that there is a "desperate need" for more investment in research. The economic and social reasons to find Turn to Page 24 a cure, or disease-modifying therapy, cannot be ignored, Mr Hunt said.

Rob Stewart, North East communications and media officer for the Alzheimer's Society branch in Newcastle, acknowledged that improvements for dementia patients had been made in recent years but more still needed to be done.

He said: "We have seen the huge progress that has been delivered for cancer research because of a sustained boost in funding and now need the same for people with dementia. David Cameron's announcements mean the UK is leading the fight in dementia research but our global partners will be crucial to fulfilling the promise of the G8.

"Since the Prime Minister launched his dementia challenge in 2012, research funding has been increased and there's been a huge amount of activity to tackle dementia, leading to the first ever G8 summit dedicated to a condition and a landmark pledge to find a cure or treatment by 2025.

"This has put dementia on the agenda so the condition is beginning to get the attention it deserves alongside other diseases. However, there is still a long way to go."

It is estimated that by 2021 there will be as many as a million people with dementia and costs are set to rocket from the PS23bn per year that dementia already costs the economy. …

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