London: Research conducted by Help the Aged has revealed that the UK public rank mental decline higher than any other worry about ageing, including big issues like the pensions crisis and the fear of isolation (1).
In response to this concern, the Charity has launched a new website www.disconnectedmind.org.uk to help mobilise public support for one of the worlds most promising scientific projects to combat the condition.
Help the Aged has committed to fund this historic project, called The Disconnected Mind, through to its conclusion in 2015. Donations are needed now to maximise the possibility of a breakthrough in the fight against early mental decline that usually leads to dementia (2).
The project is unique because the scientists leading the study at the University of Edinburgh will revisit 1,000 volunteers, who are now aged 71, who took part in the Scottish Mental Survey in 1947 a survey that has not been repeated since. The project will compare the participants childhood mental ability, current ability, biological health and 60 years of life experience.
www.disconnectedmind.org.uk uniquely divides the project into tangible pieces so that the public can see how any donation from them, however small, can make a big difference. For example, just £45 would fund the in-depth examination of one participants test results, which could hold the secret to the prevention or treatment of mental decline.
Early mental decline often leads to dementia that affects 700,000 people in the UK. Tragically, this is expected to rise to over a million by 2025 unless new ways are found to combat it.
More details on the survey:
(1) Survey by GfK NOP for Help the Aged. A sample of 1000 adults aged 16+ in the UK were interviewed during the weekend of 4th 6th May 2007. This survey was designed to be nationally representative of the telephone owning population of the UK. It revealed that mental decline ranks higher (41% of responses) than any other concern about ageing, including big issues like the pensions crisis/lack of savings and fear of isolation. Initial mental decline often leads to full dementia which the survey revealed is the age-related health condition of greatest concern, with 53% of respondents ranking it above strokes, incontinence and osteoporosis.
(2) Four out of five people who experience mild mental impairment go on to develop dementia within six years.
The team of experts at the University of Edinburgh performing The Disconnected Mind project are Professor Ian Deary, Doctor John Starr, Professor Jim McCulloch, Professor Joanna Wardlaw, Professor Richard Morris and Doctor Karen Horsburgh.
Help the Aged is the charity fighting to free disadvantaged older people in the UK and overseas from poverty, isolation, neglect and ageism. It campaigns to raise public awareness of the issues affecting older people and to bring about policy change. The Charity delivers a range of services: information and advice, home support and community living, including international development work. These are supported by its paid-for services and fundraising activities – which aim to increase funding in the future to respond to the growing unmet needs of disadvantaged older people. Help the Aged also funds vital research into the health issues and experiences of older people to improve the quality of later life.