Dementia prevention advice is to be included as part of an NHS Health Check.

Healthcare professionals in GP surgeries and the community are to give advice on what can be done to prevent dementia as part of the national healthcare check programme.

The advice is expected to be included in the NHS Health Check programme over the coming year and will enable professionals to talk to patients about the steps they can take to reduce their risk of dementia. The advice will include suggestions that people maintain their social life, keep mentally and physically active, and stop smoking.

Check to spot early signs

Experts estimate more than 850,000 people in the UK live with dementia and there is little public understanding of the possibilities of reducing the risk. The NHS Health check programme—a health check programme for adults in England aged 40-74 and designed to spot the early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia—helps find ways to lower the risks of developing any of those conditions.

Much of the health check programme focuses on reducing the risks of cardio-vascular disease (CVD), but the advice for preventing CVD or heart disease is the same for dementia.

Duncan Selbie of Public Health England said: “The NHS Health Check is one of the largest public health prevention programmes in the world with almost 7 million in the last 5 years having benefited from a check, and it’s reaching the people where it’s most needed with the greatest numbers in the most disadvantaged areas. This success is down to local councils delivering and they should be proud of this achievement.”

Healthy as possible as long as possible

Steve Brine, Under Secretary State for Public Health and Primary Care, said the aim of the health check programme was to keep people as healthy as possible for as long as possible, which was the reasoning behind the introduction of advice on dementia prevention as part of the free health check.

David Lockwood, Finders International’s public sector development manager, said: “Dementia and its impact on health and social care in this country is a huge issue, so the introduction of advice to health care checks is to be welcomed.

“While there are steps that can be taken by individuals to reduce risk, the biggest risk factor is age, and we live in a society with an ageing population, and individuals, families, communities, councils and health boards are impacted massively by dementia.”

Finders International runs regular deputyship development days to help councils network with others who provide services in this area. You can read more about them here.