Dementia prevention is being thrown into the spotlight by a psychiatrist, who is on a mission to roll out dementia prevention services across the UK and beyond.
With the World Health Organization warning that 139 million people globally could have dementia by 2050 (the figure currently stands at 55 million), governments are urgently seeking ways to tackle this worldwide health crisis.
Psychiatrist and dementia expert Dr Liana Borza has founded Prevention Journeys, which aims to revolutionise the journey of patients who reach out to GP practices, memory clinics and the NHS with concerns about memory loss.
Dr Borza believes by introducing dementia prevention across the health service, the number of people who go on to develop dementia will be reduced, or the onset of the condition delayed.
“Currently, if people are worried about memory loss, but do not yet have dementia, when they look for help almost none is available. The health service concentrates instead on treating those who have already developed dementia,” said Dr Borza.
“My goal is to help health service providers – including GP practices and memory clinics – introduce dementia prevention support, as well as improve the way dementia treatment is managed for those who have already developed the condition.”
Prevention Journeys is the only organisation of its kind in the UK working with health providers to address dementia prevention and it was born out of Dr Borza’s desire to improve the lives of those who are at risk of dementia.
The organisation operates by helping GP practices and memory clinics to review their services and to plug any gaps in provision, including putting in place a network of service providers – such as nutritionists and therapists – who can help patients modify the lifestyle choices that could increase their risk of developing dementia.
Dr Borza said: “It’s known that factors such as smoking, excess alcohol consumption, poor sleep, hypertension, lack of physical activity, being overweight, stress, social isolation, and hearing loss contribute to the development of dementia.”
“By helping patients to modify these risk factors, their overall health will improve. Memory clinics and GP practices are ideally placed, and Prevention Journeys – with our expertise in dementia – can support health providers to put effective personalised programmes in place.”
Prevention Journeys’ services also mean that clinics/practices can grow their businesses, as they will be working with more patients for longer; instead of helping only those who have dementia, they will also help those with subjective or mild cognitive impairment, who are generally younger.
Prevention Journeys’ mission dovetails with the UK Government’s ten-year plan to tackle dementia, unveiled in 2022, which includes action to reduce the 40% preventable cases of dementia.
Dr Borza herself has extensive experience as a Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry and Clinical Lead in the NHS in London, as well as private memory clinics.
She is a clinical teacher and an ethics and law tutor at the Centre for Psychiatry of Imperial College London faculty of medicine, and an independent expert of the European Commission in Brussels.