University of Northampton wins £130,000 grant to study dementia in young people

Picture: University of Northampton
Picture: University of Northampton

Research into diagnosing and supporting young people who develop dementia is being supported by the University of Northampton.

The university’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing has won a grant from Alzheimer’s Society and the National Young Onset Dementia Network.

Dementia is a degeneration of the brain that causes a progressive decline in people’s ability to think, reason, communicate and remember.

The condition is considered ‘young onset’ when it affects people of working age, usually between 30 and 65 years old. It is estimated that there are 850,000 people in the UK who have been diagnosed with dementia, of which per cent (42,325) are under 65 years of age – though the actual figure could be higher because of the difficulties of diagnosing the condition.

The university’s Professor Jacqueline Parkes, who is the reserve chair for Research on the NYODN, together with members of the NYODN has been successful in obtaining a £320,000 grant from the Alzheimer’s Society, which will fund a three-year project to improve accuracy of diagnosis in young onset dementia and reduce delays to diagnosis and improve post-diagnostic support services.

Northampton’s portion of the award is approximately £130,000. The project will be jointly led by Dr Janet Carter (UCL), Professor Jan Oyebode (University of Bradford) and Professor Jacqueline Parkes.

Professor Jacqueline Parkes said: “This award is the culmination of several years’ work by myself and Alison Ward (Researcher) in the Centre for Applied Mental Health Research in the University’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing.

“In 2009, the members of the Mental Health Research Group at the University identified the need to develop a locally focused Dementia Research Network.

“The primary aims of this Network were to promote early diagnosis and early intervention for all people experiencing the signs and symptoms associated with dementia; and more specifically establish a programme of research into young onset dementia.

“In 2012, the Network launched ‘The Forget-Me-Nots’, a Northamptonshire-based social group for younger people living with dementia and their carers. The group is jointly led and co-ordinated by myself and Alison. The establishment of this locally based group has attracted a great deal of interest,” she said.

“It is the national and international recognition of this innovative social initiative which led us to recommend to the National Young Onset Dementia Network that they apply to the Alzheimer’s Society to support a study into this under-researched but important aspect of dementia,” she added.