It seems like there’s an awareness day for everything now (looking at you National Bubblewrap Appreciation Day) but for more serious subjects they can act as useful moments to review progress, remind people of the support available, explore new innovations and set new targets.
This September has been World Alzheimer’s Month. Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia are the leading cause of death in the UK and more than half of people in the UK know someone who has been diagnosed with Dementia. It can be a cruel and debilitating disease and across the month organisations, people affected, and their loved ones have been sharing their experiences of diagnosis and living with its symptoms.
John, our founder has previously shared his personal experience of living with Dementia, as his Mum had early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, which took hold from her late 40’s through to her death at 57.
“Every day as a carer you are confronted with dozens of mini-battles, where you must make a decision to act for the person you are caring for, but every decision is filled with emotion, and never providing any certainty you did the right thing. The shocking reality is that there are millions of families all over the UK going through this, with dementia and dozens of other cruel, debilitating diseases.
I see dementia as the biggest challenge to society of this century, but the duty to tackle it cannot be left to people with dementia and their families alone. They deserve people to join this fight, but more importantly in many cases, they have no ability to be able to make it themselves.”
And, this is exactly why World Alzheimer’s Month should be viewed as positive time – through education it can do exactly that – encourage people to join the fight.
Ushering in a new era for research
This year, as part of World Alzheimer’s Month, The Alzheimer’s Society, Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) officially launched a £4.1m Longitude Prize. Innovators will be challenged to develop technologies that learn about the lives of people with early-stage dementia, and employ novel and emerging technologies to bridge cognitive gaps that develop as their condition progresses.
This month has also seen focus shifted back on the Dementia Moonshot pledge with dementia organisations renewing the cry for the Government to deliver on their 2019 promise to double dementia research.
It’s vital that the newly formed cabinet comes good on this promise, as we see clear evidence that long term sustained investment is required to result in a greater step change in research capacity and outcomes as has been the case with other diseases. However, researchers are still waiting to even receive a timescale or a funding plan from the Government.
Care and cure with data
For us, this is a subject close to our hearts and our personal motives for founding KareInn. KareInn is not a dementia company, we are here to help make it easier for carers to look after the people they care for through our digital care planning app. However, our service is inextricably linked to dementia given the demographic we support.
This is why we are incredibly proud of our involvement in the creation of the Ignite App, which was designed by Alzheimer’s Society funded student Katrina Moore as part of the UK arm of the Genetic Frontotemporal Dementia Initiative (GENFI). Through cognitive games the app enables the pre-symptomatic detection of early frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in individuals who have a genetic predisposition and are highly likely to develop the disease later in life. In a nut shell it can help diagnose someone with dementia long before they show any symptoms, giving us a greater opportunity to see if early intervention can help.
Funding for Alzheimer’s is split between research for a cure and also how we can improve immediate care for those in need. Our primary work with digital care means we are very focused on near term support needs, but our work with projects like GENFI means we always have one eye on future innovation and we hope that one day, our data can contribute towards the wider cure research.