Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK and there are currently no treatments that can slow or stop the diseases that cause it. Studying the earliest changes in diseases like Alzheimer’s will help researchers identify those who could benefit most from new treatments, and design better clinical trials to test them.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is supporting a University College London study involving members of the MRC National Survey of Health and Development – the UK’s longest running from-birth study. These volunteers have contributed to medical research their whole lives, providing decades of detailed medical and life history.

At the age of 70, 500 of the volunteers are now undergoing state-of-the-art brain imaging, memory and thinking assessments and providing blood, urine and DNA samples. A multidisciplinary team of researchers is using this information to learn more about the earliest changes in diseases like Alzheimer’s and the factors that combine to influence a person’s risk of dementia.

My main feelings about being part of the Survey are curiosity and a bit of pride. If, in our backgrounds, there is a ‘why’ for dementia, a reason some of us develop the condition and others don’t, we have to find it. Patient perspective