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10 new developments in dementia research in 2018

Despite no new drugs for dementia in 15 years, we are seeing great strides towards new treatments. Here we celebrate just a few of this year's highlights in Alzheimer’s Society research.

For almost 40 years, Alzheimer’s Society has remained committed to supporting dementia research. We are determined to bring new treatments to the people who need them the most. Our research is unique as we also aim to improve care for everyone affected by dementia. 

Take a closer look at some positive things from Alzheimer's Society's dementia research this year.

1. Over 10,000 people are taking part in research studies across the UK

Join Dementia Research matches people interested in taking part in research to studies in their area. In July, this national service supported by Alzheimer's Society passed a major milestone matching over 10,000 people to research studies. 

Thanks to Join Dementia Research, more people than ever are taking part in vital dementia research.

2. Researchers discover treatments for arthritis could be repurposed for dementia

This year, early stage research showed some drugs used to treat arthritis might also help to reduce the risk of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society is now supporting the next stage of this research led by Dr Bernadette McGuinness. This vital work will help us to understand the potential of anti-inflammatory drugs for people with dementia.

3. The UK Dementia Research Institute centres officially open

The Dementia Research Institute (DRI) makes the UK the best place in the world to be part of the ground-breaking dementia research. Alzheimer’s Society has pledged over £50 million to support the institute in our biggest ever commitment to research.

With six centres supporting over 600 world-leading researchers, the UK DRI is a leading light in the field of dementia research.

4. Our research changed advice on prescribing some anti-cholinergic drugs 

In May, our research highlighted concerns that antidepressants and bladder medications  may be linked to a higher risk of dementia . However we also dispelled any concerns over common anticholinergic drugs ,such as hayfever medication

Our research led to The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) urging GPs to avoid prescribing these anticholinergic medicines to people in mid to late life. 

5. Smartphone technology could help experts drive forward dementia research

In September, we launched GameChanger alongside the University of Oxford. Over 12,000 people are now taking part in the study. It will help researchers understand more about how brains change over time.
We're asking thousands of people across the UK to support dementia research. Sign up and play fun, free brain games for five minutes each day for a month.

6. We are tackling the sensitive topics in dementia

Our research aims to help people affected by dementia to live well in every aspects of their lives. This includes tackling issues that are often avoided.

This year, our Innovation team launched Lift the lid.  People with dementia often face a taboo around sex and intimacy. This new resource will help care home staff address these issues.

We're also taking on incontinence. We know it can make a real difference to the quality of life of people with dementia. Ten organisations – including Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, Marie Curie and Parkinson’s UK – made recommendations to tackle the stigma of incontinence and fund research into this important but often ignored issue.

7. Partnering across the globe is making our research go further 

International collaborations with other research organisations is vital. It helps to share knowledge and influence the dementia research community. worldwide. Our partnerships help to ensure UK researchers benefit from international initiatives and funding.

This year we’ve partnered with the Global Brain Health Institute and Joint Programme - Neurodegenerative Diseases to support research across the globe.

8. There’s a stronger focus on women and dementia 

We’ve known for a long time that women are more at risk of dementia than men. Worldwide, women with dementia outnumber men 2 to 1.

In 2018, researchers are focused more than ever in understanding exactly why that is but there are still many unanswered questions. 

9. People affected by dementia are changing dementia research for the better 

Our Research Network continue to show how people affected by dementia can improve the quality of research.

As the Research Network approaches its 20th year, we highlight the work of these dedicated volunteers. In March, we published a report celebrating the positive impact of our volunteers on the field of dementia research. 

10. We're funding great ideas to help people affected by dementia to live well

Too many people face barriers to living well with no way to overcome them. This year, our Innovation team launched the Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme.  We want to make products and services, that could have an impact on the lives of people affected by dementia, a reality.

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As a general rule, and definitely in our area, once diagnosed patients are discharged from the Memory Service after 1 year and no further scans are given. Surely if patients are not monitored and scanned regularly after diagnosis to see how disease is progressing and at what rate; this hinders research and ways of helping to find better treatment and cure.

I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 3 years ago at the age of 59. For several months I had noticed tremors in my right hand and the shaking of my right foot when I was sitting. My normally beautiful cursive writing was now small cramped printing. And I tended to lose my balance. Neurologist had me walk down the hall and said I didn't swing my right arm. I had never noticed! I was in denial for a while as there is no history in my family of parents and five older siblings, but now accept I have classic symptoms. I am taking herbal treatment  and am about to start physical therapy to strengthen muscles.this herbal treatment has full get rid of my PD after 15 weeks of usage and it has reversed all symptoms.

On the subject of ' sensitive topics in dementia ' I know I'm not alone in having a partner with dementia, who does strange things with his ' poo' . I felt very alone and frustrated, until the nurse at the memory clinic told me it's not unusual, and now I'm relieved my partner only pushes it down the bathroom sink, and doesn't 'hide ' his poo as some dementia patients do. But this strange behaviour is not talked about or explained, and must come as quite a shock to other carers as it did me.

There are much more advance treatment/research in America. Why is it not possible to colaberate with other countries such as brain estem cells from young brains inserted into elderly brain. Apparently this has shown fantastic results! Are we even looking at these simple solution? Or studies.

What is the outcome or latest information regarding the Dementia Services Mapping Research Project that was being undertaken in Derbyshire in conjunction with the Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust funded by the Alzheimers Society.

Hi Joe, this study is still ongoing and seeking participants. You can find more information here:…

Last week my husband and I spent 2 days at University
College London participating in their research. We have done this for over 10 years. This year we learned that the first babies are being born in Britain to parents at risk of a genetic form of dementia with the benefit of IVF. These babies do not carry the gene! It's good to see some positive changes happening as a result of research.

I've had Alzheimers for 3 years and have seen no progress in countering the disease. That bothers me. Where can I find a detailed, accurate account of Alz Society's aims, current projects, expenditure, achievements, successes and failures?

Please respond to this earlier question:
There are much more advance treatment/research in America. Why is it not possible to colaberate with other countries such as brain estem cells from young brains inserted into elderly brain. Apparently this has shown fantastic results! Are we even looking at these simple solution? Or studies.
Joe Ashton
18 January 2019 at 8:11 pm

when i read letters coments ect i am amazed my wife has had dementia for 4 yearsnothing i have read gives me any hope whatsoever

I agree with sue after the first year your forgotten.
The test are out dated some are 30years old and still been used to day by people with know experience or knowledge of the condition.
I've said this before to all parties they need retraining get rid of this stigma it only effect people over the age of 70th .
I could go on but am so bitter and let down by you all .

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2014 aged 77yrs, She passed away just 2 years later. Mums eldest sister also had alzheimers and lived for 15years with the condition until she passed away about 10years ago aged 80yrs. Since my mum passed away we have discovered mums younger sister (now 81) is in the grips of this awful disease. I would like to think that someone somewhere would like to understand the link to 3 sisters getting the disease. Is this normal in families? To add insult to injury I am now supporting my dad who has dementia...Alzheimers not yet diagnosed, not that it makes any difference because like a lot of people have found, once you have been diagnosed you are pretty much on your own. I wonder what happens to elderly people with this disease that have no family to support them.

Hi June,
Sorry to hear about your mother and aunties. That must have been very difficult for you.
Whether or not dementia can be passed down through the family depends very much on the type of dementia. With Alzheimer's disease, it's not inherited in the vast majority of cases (less than 1 in every 100 cases). With other types of dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia, it is more common.
We have some information on our website here which you may find useful:…
I'm sorry to hear that your dad is now living with dementia as well, and that you now feel on your own. As you say, it's great that your dad has your support and I'm sure that means a lot to him.
If you haven't already, I'd recommend calling our helpline to see what other support might be available to you. You can find the details here:
You can also try searching our dementia directory to see if there are any local services or groups in your area that can help you and your dad:
Lots of people also find our online community, Dementia Talking Point, to be a useful resource. Here you can talk to other people going through similar situations, ask questions and share your own experiences. It's open 24/7, free to browse or sign-up:
I hope this is helpful - please do get in touch if you need any more support.
Alzheimer's Society blog team

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