Monthly Archives: October 2015

Why exercise in older age is more important than ever…

Only 1 in 10 adults over the age of 65 get enough physical activity. Yet, more and more research seems to be suggesting that to maximise your chances of staying healthy and living well with dementia, you need to engage in activities that are going to stimulate you both mentally AND physically.

Now recent research in Finland has added weight to the growing body of evidence that suggests that exercising into your 70s and beyond can drastically reduce the risk of falls that result in broken bones and other serious injuries.

For women the risk of injury is made worse by osteoporosis,or thinning bones, which becomes common when production of the hormone oestrogen declines after menopause.

To study the effect that exercise could have for women in reducing their risk from falls, researchers at the UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research in Finland took a group of 149 women aged 70 to 78 years at the start of the programme and divided them into groups to undertake a programme of supervised workouts 3 times a week for one year. Some did balance training, some strength training to build up muscle tone, some a combination of the two, and some no exercise at all.

After five years of follow up, 61 women had a total of 81 fall-related injuries.

Compared to the women who hadn't exercised, the participants who had followed the programme of combined balance and strength training had a 51 percent less fall-related injuries and 74 percent less fractures, the study found.

Doing only balance workouts, or just strength training, didn’t appear to reduce the risk of injuries or fractures. It was the combination of both types of exercise that proved most beneficial.

The findings bolster previous research that has already proved that improving balance and muscle strength is an important factor in protecting against fall-related injuries. But interestingly, this study goes on to suggest that the benefits lasted even when the intensive physical activity stopped.

Saija Karinkanta, Lead author of the study, draws the conclusion:

“It is useful to train a little bit harder and intensively so that your physical functioning really improves. After that, you can maintain the benefits with lighter, less intensive exercise.”

As the saying goes, Its never too late to start.....and if intensive training may seem a step too far, even low impact work-outs such as walking, swimming or Tai Chi can all help.

Article courtesy of

How you could help dementia research

As the number of families affected by dementia grows ever greater, public awareness of the need to prioritise dementia research is at last coming to the fore. And Government pledges, championed by David Cameron​, to identify a cure or disease modifying treatment by 2025, is now helping to increase the impetus for new research. 

Recruiting willing research volunteers

Although dementia charities report more people willing to take part in research than ever before, researchers still find recruiting volunteers time consuming and expensive. Professor Rowan Harwood, Dementia researcher at the University of Nottingham explains, 

"A big issue is that data protection laws do not allow researchers to approach people with dementia directly - we need your permission to be told what diagnoses you might have, and in many respects that is very wise. But it does prevent research."

Join Dementia Research

To make the process much easier, the NHS has launched Join Dementia Research - a website designed to encourage people to take part in research studies and make it much easier to match volunteers with potential research projects.

The short NHS video clip below explains more...

Researchers are always in need of volunteers. Whether you have a diagnosis of dementia or are fit and healthy, you may be able to help.

For further information, click here to visit the Join Dementia Research website.

Supermarket plastic bag levy to benefit dementia research

If, like me, you found yourself cursing at the supermarket checkout this week when you realised you'd forgotten your carefully prepared pile of re-usable shopping bags, you can at least be cheered by the knowledge that each of those 5 pences you had to fork out, will be destined for a worthy cause.

​From 5th October, compulsory charges for single use carrier bags were introduced to encourage recycling and reduce pollution. Supermarkets have to pay out 0.83p of the 5p charge in VAT, but are expected to donate the rest to charity.

Asda, Waitrose, Iceland and Morrisons have joined forces to announce they will donate the profits from bags to support the construction of a world-class dementia research centre at UCL in London.

By coming together and pooling the money raised, the 4 supermarkets hope to raise as much as £20 million in the first year alone.

The research centre at UCL is estimated to cost £350 million to build and currently has a spending shortfall of £100 million which it is hoped the money from the supermarkets will go some way to reducing.

The Dementia Research Institute will bring together researchers from across UCL and UCLH to lead national and international efforts to find effective treatments and improve the lives of those with dementia.

UCL have guaranteed that no overheads will be taken from the money raised, so all funds will go directly to support dementia research.

Dementia already devastates the lives of far too many families across Britain – we urgently need to find more effective ways to prevent, delay or treat the diseases that cause it. There are real prospects for progress if we bring together the most able scientists and clinicians and support them in their research. This remarkable initiative by some of the UK’s leading supermarkets could make a real difference to accelerating that research.
Professor Nick Fox
UCL Institute of Neurology

Despite government commitments to find a cure for dementia by 2025 and ever -increasing public awareness, the amount of funding for dementia research remains a fraction of the amount spent by cancer charities each year, so this boost from the 4 big supermarkets is very welcome.

It’s enormously encouraging to see major retailers with huge influence over the public putting themselves forward to help solve the dementia challenge.

With a global aim to produce a disease-modifying treatment that can bring relief to people with dementia by 2025, dementia research has big ambitions and will need big initiatives to realise them.

Hilary Evans  
Chief Exec, Alzheimer's Research UK

Article courtesy of Local Dementia Guide first published 11/10/15