Guest blog – What alternative treatments work for people with dementia?

This guest blog was contributed by Caroline Lee from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge.

440x210_man-woman-readingThe most debilitating symptoms of dementia affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities, yet are also some of the most difficult to treat with medication.

As the health and social care burden of dementia increases, so does interest in alternatives to medication. However, the widespread take up of alternative treatments must be grounded in robust analysis both of health outcomes and of cost-effectiveness.

An off the shelf product claiming to improve memory in early Alzheimer’s disease seems to offer both hope and convenience. However, some of these, including Souvenaid, are governed by the food rather than the drugs industry and, as such, regulated differently.

While these new ‘non-pharmacological products’ are already on the market, potential new drugs remain in clinical trial, and the scientific community continues to strive for new knowledge based on robust evidence of ‘what works’. Continue reading “Guest blog – What alternative treatments work for people with dementia?”

Cold homes, fuel poverty and healthy lives

It may be measured in baby steps, but at last the Department of Health (DH) is acknowledging the importance of cold homes, and living in fuel poverty, to the health debate.

Age UK’s lobbying and campaigning on fuel poverty issues is strongly grounded on the health implications – the ill-health arising from not keeping adequately warm, measured both in terms of human suffering and costs to the NHS – so this engagement by the DH is a significant advance.  Two short reports from Age UK have looked at recent public health initiatives to assess their impact.

aOne is concerned with the Warm Homes Healthy People programme.  This was announced as a ‘one-off’ in 2011, then repeated in 2012.

It was a £20m prize pot to which local authorities were invited to bid, provided their proposals were to address ‘winter pressures’, and provided they were doing so in partnership with the local voluntary and community groups.

It stimulated a remarkable range of varied activities, from clearing snow and going shopping in adverse weather, to providing hot meals and issuing ‘winter survival packs’, to checking electric blankets and checking benefit entitlements.

It drove a wave of local, community activity, and local Age UK partners were substantially involved. This report looks at their experience of the project, and it is overwhelmingly supportive. Continue reading “Cold homes, fuel poverty and healthy lives”