On World Alzheimer’s Day, it is heartening to see the response to this year’s theme – Remember Me. Naturally, we have been talking about this in the Prevent team and during our discussion a colleague asked me about the people I remember most from my time treating people with dementia.
It brought to mind one of my earliest patients, when I was working in Melbourne, Australia. It was during the late 1990s and he was a relatively young patient in his early 60s. I remember very clearly his anxiety, his worry about what his future would hold, and of course his wife’s pain in anticipating the changes they would inevitably face. We prescribed Aricept, which had only recently launched as a dementia medication, and I did my best to offer him as much hope as I could.
Back then, it was a pivotal time in dementia research. As scientists we felt we were on the cusp of something really amazing in terms of understanding the biology of dementia. It was the start of the movement that still gives us hope that we will find a way to develop new, preventative treatments.
I have been privileged to look after thousands of patients over the past 25 years, and I can honestly say that all of them have inspired us to find a way to prevent this condition. The elderly and mentally ill are two of the most disenfranchised groups in our society, and it follows that those living with dementia can feel doubly isolated. Fighting their battle, and the promise of saving others from ever facing it, gives us our motivation to find new ways of stopping dementia in its tracks.
If you’re keen to help us, either by joining the study or fundraising for our research, please get in touch. Our new Research Engagement Manager, Anna Borthwick, would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, and happy World Alzheimer’s Day,
Prof Craig Ritchie.