People in London are being urged to help improve the speed and accuracy of dementia diagnosis… by playing a smartphone game.
Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia charity, is calling on people to download and use GameChanger – a new brain games app – for just five minutes a day over one month.
Researchers say data recorded on the app will enable them to understand more about how people usually perform – which will later help them to identify the warning signs of Alzheimer’s.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, 72,000 of them live in London. The national figure is set to exceed one million by 2021.
Someone in the UK develops dementia every three minutes, but a third of cases are undiagnosed.
It is hoped GameChanger will lead to better understanding of the condition which, in turn, will result in improved diagnosis rates.
Alzheimer’s Society has worked with scientists at the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute on the app, which features a series of games designed to test specific aspects of memory and thinking that are affected in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
As World Alzheimer’s Month draws to a close, the charity is calling on the public to download the app and play the games for five minutes a day, every day for a month.
It is hoped the app can eventually be used to find people in the very early stages of the disease and develop new treatments to stop it in its tracks.
Kevin Whately, famous for starring in Inspector Morse and Lewis, became an Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador after his mum was diagnosed with dementia and has been playing the games ahead of the app’s launch today.
He said: “GameChanger is going to be a very important innovation because the more people play, the quicker we can detect what causes this awful disease. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it will really drive forward dementia research.”
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We’ve worked hard with the Government and the NHS to increase dementia diagnosis rates but there is far more to be done.
A third of people with dementia still don’t get a diagnosis, and those who do often tell us it was a painfully slow process. A million people in the UK will have dementia by 2021, and if they can get a diagnosis quickly and accurately that will help them to live well with the disease.
“Dementia is the only one of the top ten killers that we can’t cure, prevent or even slow down, so we urgently need to better understand this devastating disease. Alzheimer’s Society is investing in research because it will beat dementia – but for research to progress, more people need to take part, and GameChanger is a great opportunity for everyone to do that.”
Dr Chris Hinds from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute, commented: “People using the app are just playing games but their phones are doing much more – collecting data that we can use to learn about the brain, to help us understand what is a natural part of ageing and what’s a warning sign.
“Technology can open up these hugely exciting areas of dementia research, but we need people to get involved and help drive the GameChanger project forward. Hopefully with enough support one day we will be able to spot those very early changes in the brain and stop the disease from developing.”
Beyond GameChanger, Alzheimer’s Society has a research portfolio of 182 active projects worth over £35 million this year alone, and as a founding funder of the UK Dementia Research Institute it is committed to spending at least £150m in the next decade.
To join Alzheimer’s Society in the ground-breaking research and unite against dementia, go to alzheimers.org.uk/gamechanger
- lzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia charity. We provide information and support, fund research, campaign to improve care and create lasting change for people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Dementia devastates lives. Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. By 2021, 1 million people will be living with the condition. This will soar to two million by 2051.
- Dementia deaths are rising year on year and 225,000 will develop dementia this year – that’s one every three minutes.
- Dementia costs the UK economy over £26 billion per year. This is the equivalent of more than £30,000 per person with dementia.
- Alzheimer’s Society funds research into the cause, care, cure and prevention of all types of dementia and has committed to spend at least £150 million on research over the next decade. This includes a £50 million investment in the UK’s first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.
- Until the day we find a cure, Alzheimer’s Society will be here for anyone affected by dementia – wherever they are, whatever they’re going through. Everything we do is informed and inspired by them.
- Let’s take on dementia together. Volunteer. Donate. Campaign for change. Whatever you do, unite with us against dementia.
- Alzheimer’s Society relies on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0330 333 0804 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk.
- Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit alzheimers.org.uk
- Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @Alzheimerssoc
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- Alzheimer’s Society YouTube channel www.youtube.com/