Did you know that dementia research receives 13 times less funding than cancer research? We were quite astonished by this fact and thought we would undertake a little research of our own. What research, in fact, was taking place into the curing and treatment of dementia. Being acutely aware that we were out of our depth in acquiring this knowledge, we approached Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist, Dr Jacqueline Hussey, with a few questions to see if she could provide some insight into this subject. Dr Hussey has a special interest in young onset dementia and has excellent links with Reading University’s research programmes.
What can you tell us about current research?
There are a few research projects which are specifically for young onset dementia. The Angela project is investigating ways to provide more accurate early diagnostic tools for younger people with dementia, improving service provision. There is also the AD Genetics study which is attempting to identify the genes that cause Alzheimer’s disease and the GRADUATE study which is researching the possible effect of antibody treatments.
There is generally less research being conducted into young onset dementia, mainly because there are smaller numbers of people and a greater geographical spread. This makes it practically more difficult to recruit people for research programmes. However, people living with young onset dementia can offer key insights especially when looking at genetics or specific subtypes of dementia such as Posterior cortical atrophy or frontotemporal dementia.
It will come one day but probably not soon as it takes many years for a theoretical treatment or cure to go through all the stages of robust testing and safety checks.
How can we live better with dementia?
I think the emphasis on getting an earlier diagnosis means that people can now access some treatments which can help with certain symptoms of dementia, but importantly it also ensures that the person living with dementia and their families get appropriate support. It is important to keep active and still have an active role in things. Being engaged in meaningful activity can help reduce psychological symptoms so that people can continue to live well with dementia.