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Missing the point again

It is wonderful that responsible media are interested in dementia, and bringing it forward for discussion and reflection, and hopefully for redirection of resources to improve prospects for its understanding, prevention, treatment and care.

Sadly they continue to be mesmerised by the idea that research to make drugs will lead to a cure. Even suggesting that something near a cure is already available, to some and at a price. So the Guardian gave front page on Saturday to ‘Thousands to miss out on new dementia drugs’. The electronic edition had it as ‘Hundreds of thousands’ Hundreds of thousands face being denied revolutionary new dementia drugs in England | Dementia | The Guardian

This article is based on reports from Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Disease International and the Alzheimer’s Society. The ‘revolutionary new drugs’ are lecanemab and donanemab. They are no longer ‘new’ but have been pushed for several years. The debate has occurred and we know they carry hazards, are of doubtful efficacy and would be relevant to only a small proportion of people with dementia, if at all.

The real tragedy of dementia in our time, in this country, is the failure to make best use of established and proven knowledge: the incidence of dementia can be reduced by social policy which gives equality during life to most of the population: education, work, and housing. Involvement in health life-styles, with time for leisure and exercise, the avoidance of excess food and alcohol and traumatic activities such as contact sports, can all be helpful. When dementia develops, life with the condition is made more enjoyable when sufficient care is made available to support individuals and their family carers, involvement in the arts: music, dance, exercise and community are all wonderfully effective. All this is denied to hundreds of thousands because our service provision is too mean. This is the tragedy: This is the justified reason to cry – ‘We must do something about this’


Each week we post a blog from David Jolley where he shares his personal views on relevant subjects.

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