The Government has announced its Dementia Plan, which focuses on how to make the UK the most dementia friendly society in the world by 2020. Initiatives include ensuring people living with dementia have personalised care plans from their GP, and if they have to be admitted to hospital, they receive person-centred care.
Significantly, the NHS Health Check programme will now be used to educate more people about the risks of developing dementia – and the steps they can take to reduce those risks. For the first time, the discussion of risk reduction for dementia in the NHS Health Check will be extended to those aged 40 or older – down from 65 or older. Public Health England has also launched the One You programme, which focuses on health and wellbeing for the 40+ age group, to prevent illness in later life.
Dementia UK has long advocated the importance of healthy living to help prevent or delay the onset of dementia. Unfortunately, too often the focus is on maintaining the health of the person with dementia and the well-being of the family carer is neglected. However, health checks are critical for carers to ensure they are able to care for the person with dementia and prevent any potential onset themselves. We believe it is important for people with dementia and their families to get regular health screening and to look after their physical and mental well-being.
Fight back and reduce your risk
Have regular health care checks with your GP; if you have a long term condition like diabetes or thyroid problems, it is important to follow professional advice to manage these conditions effectively.
Take advantage of ‘well-person health checks’ at your GP surgery so that your blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels are well managed.
If you are prescribed medication make sure you understand what it is for, you are compliant with the dosage, and that you have regular reviews with your GP.
If your weight has changed over the years seek support with your diet to ensure you are eating healthily.
If you smoke ask your GP about a stopping smoking programme so you have some support and care, and are successful in giving up.
Cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink to reduce the risks of high blood pressure, liver problems, heart attack, and some types of cancer.
Keep physically fit; this is very important, so take regular exercise like walking, swimming, and partake in group activities like tennis and fitness classes.
Make sure you keep socially active, so that you are talking to people in a group situation as well as one to one.
Get involved in hobbies and interests like art, woodwork, needlework, knitting, puzzles, learning a language, and listening to music. This will help to stimulate different areas of the brain and help with attention and concentration.
Follow the advice and guidance on One You www.nhs.uk/oneyou