31 January update

Dear Supporters 

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.

You may have recently seen in the press some news about testing for Alzheimer's disease using blood biomarkers. A biomarker is a trait that can be measured in your blood, body fluids, and tissues and they can be signs of conditions and diseases.

As part of the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative (DAC) worldwide programme, our team at Brain Health Scotland has been working on a project looking at implementing new tools that can be used in clinical pathways in brain health, primary care and specialist settings. These tools include a digital cognitive assessment which contains a lifestyle and health questionnaire and a blood based biomarker.

We know the benefits of having a timely dementia diagnosis, so to have a blood test that could offer this would be game changing, allowing people to access medication and support at an earlier stage of the disease. Work on this is still in progress and although these blood tests are not currently available to the public, we will of course keep you updated on any new developments on this.

We were delighted to launch a new Brain Health Service and Clinic located in our Aberdeen Brain Health & Dementia Resource Centre in early December. This is the first example in the UK of a brain health service that offers a drop-in, self-referral system and is a multi-agency project between Scottish Government, NHS Grampian and Alzheimer Scotland (which includes our Brain Health Scotland team). This innovative new service is for anyone who might have concerns about their brain health. You can find out more here.

We would like to offer our congratulations to Nick Gardner who was recently awarded an MBE. At the age of 80, Nick took on the challenge of climbing all 282 Munros and he raised an incredible £51,000 for Alzheimer Scotland. 

Finally, our events team has lined up an exciting range of fundraising challenges for you to take part in in 2024. You can find out more about how to get involved here. Thank you for helping us make sure nobody faces dementia alone.

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive

21 December update

Dear Supporters 

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.

We know that winter can be a difficult time for many people. Over the coming months, Alzheimer Scotland will be here for you and supporting you in a variety of ways. Our Centres across Scotland offer a warm space and a warm welcome, and where possible, will be providing extra groups and activities. Our National Dementia Advisor Service, launched in September this year can help with information, advice or advocacy in dealing with issues relating to dementia and is available 9-5, Monday to Friday. And of course, our Helpline is there for you day or night, offering a listening ear, emotional support, information and signposting. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported Alzheimer Scotland in 2023 by fundraising for us or making a donation. Our current winter campaign ‘We’re all in’ which focuses on dementia research has already received many generous donations – you can find out more about the campaign here.

Finally, thank you to all Alzheimer Scotland staff, volunteers and supporters for their hard work, and their dedication and commitment to people with dementia, their families and carers in Scotland.

I wish you all a safe and peaceful festive season.

Best wishes   

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive
 

30 November update

Dear Supporters 

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. 

We were delighted to launch our 2022/23 Annual Review at our recent Annual General Meeting. The review reflects on some of the innovative work taken place over the last 12 months and highlights some of our key achievements. You can download your copy here

This year, our winter campaign focuses on research and some of the wonderful people we support and work with who give their time to dementia research. In our ‘We’re All In’ campaign, we celebrate the idea that each of us, in our own unique way, can contribute to dementia research. Thank you to Willy, Kenny and Rynagh who all featured in the campaign, talking about their own personal experience of living with a diagnosis and participating in research. Our campaign strapline ‘Together we’re the change – are you in?’ sums up perfectly how working together today can bring hope for tomorrow. You can find out more about the ways you can support this campaign here

Dementia research was also a focus of STV’s Scotland Tonight: Living with Dementia last week. It featured Graeme and Kirstin Sutherland, whose mother Linda is living with Alzheimer's. If you missed it, the link can be found here and is available for another few weeks. 

We know winter can be a challenging time. We want to reassure you that Alzheimer Scotland will remain here for you over these coming months between our local support and warm spaces, our National Dementia Advisor Service and our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline. Find out more here

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive 
 

31 October update

Dear Supporters  

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.  

On the 31 October I was invited to give evidence to the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry on the impact that the pandemic and the subsequent measures had on people with dementia and their families. This followed on from us providing a detailed written submission and a personal witness statement. It was a very detailed and thorough session during which I was able to explain the immense impact that the pandemic had on our community. I was also able to highlight how as a consequence of the measures many people with dementia and their families were left to cope with all caring responsibilities on their own, and how just about every aspect of face to face contact, respite and day services was closed down. The impact on our community was inordinate and disproportionate and I am pleased that the Inquiry allowed us to lay all of this out in detail. It also provided me with the opportunity to explain what we did to provide alternative supports and how we campaigned to remobilise our services as quickly as possible. These sessions are all being recorded and you can watch this session here

I am delighted that the second round of Alzheimer Scotland’s Student Research Programme has started. The Programme provides the opportunity for students to pursue a career in dementia research and offers more than a financial contribution, with successful applicants having the chance to develop their research communication skills, work with people with personal experience as well as other valuable networking opportunities.

Research is vital. It brings hope, and it is something that we can all get involved in. Our winter fundraising and awareness campaign for 2023 focuses on research and some of the wonderful people we support and work with who give their time to dementia research. Our campaign strapline ‘We’re all in’ sums up perfectly how working together today can bring hope for tomorrow.

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be taking place on 10 November at our Centre in Oxford Street and I am looking forward to welcoming all Alzheimer Scotland Members who are able to attend on the day.  Our 2022/23 Annual Review will also be launched at the AGM and features some of the highlights of our work from over the last 12 months.   

Following on from the AGM we are holding a Supporter Event, and I am so pleased to get the chance to thank in person so many fundraisers who have made such a wonderful contribution. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one of our supporters for their passion and dedication. Thank you. 

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive 
 

30 September update

Dear Supporters  
 
I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.  
 
I was delighted to welcome so many attendees at our recent Annual Conference in Edinburgh. With over 350 people at the event, it was a great opportunity to connect and network in person. If you were unable to attend, all the keynote presentations are available to watch on our website here, alongside recordings of our webinar series which took place across September. 
 
The expertise and depth of understanding shown by each of our fantastic guest speakers, on such an interesting range of topics, was truly inspiring. Each of our three sessions offered a remarkable insight into the work being done to improve the lives of those living with dementia, their families, and carers.  Some of the concepts covered in the Women’s Brain Health & Dementia session were hard to hear - but are very important to understand. We take this area of focus extremely seriously and, following the level of interest and conversation from this session, we are launching a Women’s Brain Health and Dementia Commission to explore these issues further to make a series of recommendations.  
 
Only last week, we learned the latest dementia death statistics published by National Records of Scotland. Data shows that Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias, continue to be among the leading causes of death for women in Scotland, and the total number of overall deaths has increased over the last year. We need sustained and increased investment in brain health and dementia research to reduce the number of people developing dementia in the future, and we need to ensure that those living with dementia now receive the highest quality of care. 
 
On 21 September, Word Alzheimer’s Day, we launched our new National Dementia Advisor Service. This will provide responsive, high-quality information, advice and advocacy support relating to all aspects of brain health and dementia. The team of highly skilled Dementia Advisors are available to answer general enquiries, but also to help people work through more complex issues. More information and contact details can be found here
 
Our National Dementia Advisor Service and our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline are wholly funded by the generous donations and fundraising activities of our supporters. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in Scotland’s Memory Walk on 15-17 September. It was an incredible effort indeed, and we were delighted to receive so many inspirational stories from our wonderful supporters who took part. Thank you. 

Best wishes  

Henry Simmons  
Chief Executive 
 

31 August update

Dear Supporters

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. 

We are looking forward to hosting our Annual Conference on Friday 15 September and the opportunity to connect with members, colleagues and friends on the day. The theme this year is ‘Influencing positive change & progressive practice in dementia’ and we are delighted to bring three fantastic sessions to the main stage and a mix of both national and international experts and speakers.  We will be exploring how innovation and progressive practice supports and improves the lives of people with dementia. Understanding the issues and challenges facing women in relation to women’s brain health and dementia is so vitally important, and we are grateful to have Dr Maria Teresa Ferretti join us, a neuroscientist and expert in Alzheimer’s disease and gender medicine. We will also look to the future and consider how today’s research, learning and developments are offering hope for tomorrow. There will be space for good discussions and panel questions following each of these sessions, as well as a thriving exhibitor space and networking opportunity. We are also pleased the Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport is able to join us, and delighted as always to have members of our Active Voice networks - the Scottish Dementia Working Group and the National Dementia Carers Action Network play a central role in our Conference Programme. 

As always, feedback from previous attendees and the voices of personal experience help us shape the content and the structure of the day. A two-week Conference Series will follow on from the main event, where we have a wide range of online webinars and sessions to attend. Tickets for the Annual Conference are still available here, and for those unable to make it on the day, the presentations will be recorded and available on our website during our Conference Series. 

Our annual Memory Walk campaign will take place on 15-17 September, and as always, it’s your walk, your way. We are always so touched by the hundreds of supporters who come together to walk in memory and in honour of loved ones. Thank you to everyone planning to take part this year – your support is invaluable.
 
I do hope you are able to join us at our Annual Conference, and in the meantime, thank you for your continued support. 

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
 

27 July update

Dear Supporters

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. 

Alzheimer Scotland warmly welcomes the recent news of two potentially promising drugs to tackle Alzheimer’s disease. We are indebted to those who have participated in trials to support these new discoveries. Without those individuals being prepared to support and take part in research, this progress would be impossible.  We also welcome the investment of the various pharmaceutical companies who are moving this research and associated trials forward. You can read our full statement here

The new discoveries bring hope for the future, however we are extremely aware that for the many people currently living with dementia and indeed their families, this news will be difficult to hear given that these treatments will more than likely not be available for some time and may be targeted more towards those at the earlier or moderate disease stages. 

Alzheimer Scotland is committed to supporting high quality research taking place in Scotland through the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC) and through Join Dementia Research (JDR). We are confident that some of these new treatments could potentially be trialled in Scotland in the future. We would encourage anyone living with dementia to sign up to participate in research as going forward that may be the best opportunity to access new treatments.  
 
We understand this news might be difficult or may leave you with some questions. If you are feeling overwhelmed or need someone to talk to, please call our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000. Our trained volunteers are available 7 days a week to provide support. We also have a network of Dementia Advisors across Scotland that can offer advice and support.  

We are delighted to see so many of our supporters already signed up for this year’s Memory Walk weekend on 15-17 September. Our flagship fundraising event has always been so well supported, and is a great chance to get together with family and friends to raise vital funds for people with dementia and carers. You can sign up here, and thank you again to everyone who has done so already. 

Best wishes

Henry Simmons 
Chief Executive