Mental health and wellbeing in old age
Click here to see details of the Dementia Initiative
Dementia is a growing public health problem whose global burden with increased longevity is expected to exceed 80 million people by 2040. Over 1% of the total UK population (700,000 individuals) currently suffer but this will reach over a million by 2020 and double again in the subsequent 20 years. In the UK, dementia care is currently estimated to cost £17 billion pounds per year, and this is projected to treble in the next 30 years, more than half of the entire current NHS budget. Even existing preventive measures treatments, scientifically deployed, could delay the disease and reduce incidence. The UK National Dementia Strategy includes plans to increase the detection of dementia (currently only 30% of cases are ever diagnosed) and improve the quality of care. Delaying the onset of dementia by 5 years would halve its prevalence in the UK. We have shown (with other groups) that protective factors in dementia incorporate activity (physical, cognitive and social) and those who are active have a lower prevalence of dementia at any given age and have done preliminary work to enhance these protective factors.
We have a history of research into mechanisms of learning and memory and unique expertise in the area of cortical development. New assessment procedures developed by the group include the Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly , now used in over 30 countries, and a new neuroimaging technique for diagnosing Lewy Body Dementia, now recognised as the international standard. Innovative interventions include Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, endorsed by NICE for dementia and widely used nationally and internationally, and ex vivo gene delivery and stem cell transplantation as therapy for neurodegenerative diseases. National and international collaborations include the national Dementias & Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN), jointly led by UCL; the North Thames Local Research Network  based at C&I, covering a population of a million older people; INTERDEM and the World Federation for Biological Psychiatry; and international replication of work on elder abuse in Australia, Romania and Poland. Treatment and service evaluation work includes an HTA funded 4 year RCT of a manual based coping strategy programme in promoting the mental health of carers of people with dementia (£1.5m).
Key departments and research groups
Ageing and Well-Being Theme in UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences
Centre for Ageing Population Studies (CAPS)
Centre for Ageing and Mental Health Sciences (CAMHS)
Institute of Healthy Ageing (IHA)
London Centre for Dementia Care (LCDC)