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Volunteers needed for study into the causes of dementia

07 Oct 2013

October 10th is World Mental Health Day and the theme for 2013 is mental health in older adults.

West London Mental Health NHS Trust and Imperial College are leading on a ground-breaking national study to identify the causes of dementia and how it can be prevented.

The PREVENT project will explore the links between physical and mental health to determine whether factors such as obesity and physical activity influence development of dementia in older age.

By gathering data from healthy people who participate in the study, researchers hope to determine whether changing personal behaviours in middle age could prevent dementia in future.

Dr Craig Ritchie, director of research at West London Mental Health NHS Trust, said: “There is a positive link between physical health and mental health which also applies to dementia. The notion exists that the foundations of dementia are laid in midlife – in our 30s, 40s and 50s – where decisions on physical health can have far reaching effects on our mental wellbeing. Obesity and fitness not only affect our physical health and wellbeing as well as life expectancy.

“We believe it may be possible that, left unchecked, these factors can also increase the likelihood of suffering mental health problems as we age. In effect retirement planning goes beyond the finances and pension planning and needs to cover health as our approach in midlife can have a direct bearing on our mental health in later life.”

The PREVENT research programme has 50 potential participants already registered, some of whom care for a parent with dementia and others who have in other ways been affected by this illness. The programme is looking initially for 300 volunteers in total It is particularly important to try and find volunteers who DON’T have a family history of dementia.

The local West London project has a national reach with academic members from Cambridge, Exeter, Edinburgh, King’s College and Newcastle universities; bringing expertise including public health, social sciences, health economics and primary care. Volunteers between the ages of 40-59 are invited to join the programme and can register their interest with by emailing katie.wells@imperial.ac.uk or call the research team office on 020 8483 1833.

To kick off awareness for the PREVENT study, the team from the trust and Imperial ran in the Ealing half marathon on 29 September 2013. This will raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society. So far £3000 has been raised and you can still donate money via:

The launch of the study this week ties into the themes of World Mental Health day on 10 October. This year’s campaign aims to raise awareness of mental health in older adults who are more at risk of suffering dementia, depression, isolation.

We are hosting information stands at Ealing, Hammersmith and West Middlesex hospitals on 10 October to remind the public that there is no health without mental health.

Across the trust we are also running other events across all our locations for our service users ranging from special events for the older patients in our hospitals such as a reminiscing sessions, ‘bake offs’ to tap into patient and staff creativity and information stands to raise awareness of keeping physically and mentally well, healthy diet, and managing addictions.

We’re changing the way some of our services are delivered during the coronavirus (Covid-19) public health emergency.Find out more
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