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Can Lifelong Learning Help Manage Dementia?

Details: Written by Kate Hutchinson |

The Skills Network welcomes the national government initiative to double fund Dementia research to 160 million a year from 2024 following breakthrough trial results for cognitive decline. Memory loss has been widely accepted as something that simply gets worse with age and in some cases is neglected as the first symptom of cognitive loss. This Dementia Action Week, learn the possible signs of Dementia and gain an awareness of the benefits associated with lifelong learning and memory care.

What is Dementia Action Week?

clock ticking, time to act on dementia

Dementia Action Week will run from 13th-19th May 2024.

The week is spearheaded by Alzheimer's Society and is one of their biggest and longest-running campaigns.

Alzheimer's Society works with organisations and individuals all over the UK to ‘act on Dementia’. Like last year, Dementia Action Week 2024 focuses on the crucial importance of an early diagnosis.

This follows another consecutive year of Dementia diagnosis rates dropping for the first time ever. It is thought that this drop in diagnosis rates is due to the widely accepted belief that memory loss comes with old age, a concerning discovery.

How can you help #actondementia?

91% of dementia sufferers believe it is better to be diagnosed than not know at all

91% of patients diagnosed with a degenerative cognitive disorder agreed that getting a diagnosis was better than not knowing at all. That is why it is crucial to act on Dementia all year round.

During and beyond Dementia Action Week, Alzheimer's Society encourages people who are concerned about a loved one or someone they know who may be experiencing possible Dementia symptoms, to seek help.

Consequently, there was a 43% increase in the number of calls recorded on the support helpline from people seeking further information and support.

How can The Skills Network help act on Dementia?

tally chart of lightbulbs- Our Level 2 and Level 3 Principles of Dementia Care learners have completed 6833 hours of online learning …and counting

Here at The Skills Network, we pride ourselves on making learning accessible to all.

We understand that those who might be caring for somebody living with Dementia do not have time to attend a classroom or regular groups.

That is why we offer a suite of accredited and auto-assessed online courses that can be studied at a time and place that suits you.

Our learners receive regular support from our dedicated team of Learner Support Advisors (LSAs) who are ready to help should you need an extension for a deadline.

We also have a thriving full of fellow learners who are ready to help should you need any advice, support or simply a bit of motivation!

Using our award-winning e-learning platform EQUAL, you can access a range of interactive content and resources that will help you carry out vital Dementia care support.

Choose from:

Our incredibly popular Level 2 Principles of Dementia Care is fully funded (that means free) for all learners who meet the eligibility criteria through the Adult Education Budget or Scottish Funding Council

We have delivered over 6000 hours of Dementia training to individual learners already- including Laura Jackson.

Listen to what Laura had to say about our Level 2 Principles of Dementia Care course…..

But it’s not just carers who can benefit from lifelong learning….

Extensive research around Dementia and education has revealed that lifelong learning has been proven to help combat cognitive decline, including common symptoms associated with Alzheimer's- the most prevalent form of Dementia in the UK.

How does learning help prevent memory loss in people with Dementia?

a brain pumping weights and staying healthy

A landmark Mayo Clinic Study revealed that lifelong learning had been connected to a marked delay in ‘age-related mental decline’.

The study proved that those who ….

  • Like to read and write
  • Conduct brain-stimulating activity
  • Have an intellectual or academic job role
  • Complete regular voluntary learning
  • Enjoy puzzles

……over the course of their lives, may see extended benefits to their cognitive function in later life.

Now we know what you’re thinking.

Can various types of Dementia such as Alzheimer's Disease really be prevented by lifelong learning?

The short answer is, sadly no.

Learning or ‘cognitive activity’ cannot change the physical biology of Alzheimer's.

But learning can help delay some of the symptoms.

Another published medical study has revealed that:

  • Brain imaging scans demonstrated that the Alzheimers associated protein Amyloid was less prevalent in the brains of individuals who had greater intellectual activity over their lifetime.
  • The protein connected to the onset of Alzheimer's (Amyloid) can be delayed from appearing in various regions of the brain with regular cognitive activity.
  • Cognitive activity such as learning can help ‘compensate for the effects’ of the disease for a longer period of time

Learning is really powerful stuff.

Another medical study proved that those who can speak two or more languages experienced delayed symptoms of dementia such as:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Trouble making decisions

On average, the above symptoms were delayed by up to 4.5 years compared to those who could only speak one language.

For more possible symptoms associated with Dementia take a look below:

Dementia symptoms checklist

If you spot any of the above symptoms and are concerned about somebody you know, take action and help get an early diagnosis.

It is never too late to benefit from lifelong learning.

Here are just a few of the reasons you should consider becoming a lifelong learner:

  1. You’ll stay connected to people -
  2. learning is an opportunity to meet new people, exchange ideas and receive support.
  1. You’ll feel more fulfilled -
  2. learning can do wonders for self-esteem and general mental health.
  1. You are giving yourself more opportunities -
  2. get the skills to help you in your career.
  1. Your health will benefit -
  2. like physical fitness, the brain is a muscle you can keep fit and strong.
  1. It is easier than ever to learn -
  2. we make online education a possibility for everyone with our free and flexible online training courses.

The Skills Network is proud to support thousands of businesses and individuals in becoming lifelong learners and welcomes the continued research and awareness made possible by campaigns such as Dementia Action Week.

To get involved and help more people get an early diagnosis, visit the Dementia Action Week Website

Find out more about our funded online courses across England and Scotland, including our Level 2 Principles of Dementia qualification.