Dementia in the blind and veteran populations
Representatives of the Blind Veterans UK Community Rehabilitation teams and our Research and Innovation team attended and presented at this year’s Annual Plymouth International Dementia Conference today.
Our team spoke about the fact that, of the 850,000 people living with dementia across the UK, more than 250,000 also have sight loss. Dementia and sight loss significantly increase the chances of isolation and loneliness.
Our Head of Research and Innovation, Dr Renata Gomes, also presented the findings of research the charity has undertaken into connections between factors that are often found in the veteran population and the likelihood of people to suffer from dementia.
Findings were presented from various studies about the connections between those suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the increase in chances of dementia.
One study presented (Raj, 2017) found that those with a moderate-to-severe TBI were 90 per cent more likely to develop dementia, than those with mild a TBI.
Other studies (Yaffe, 2010 and Qureshi, 2010) of 181,093 veterans, 53,155 who were diagnosed with PTSD, found that this population had nearly two times the risk of developing dementia than those who did not have PTSD. However, the charity is also exploring diagnostics, as PTSD and (cumulative mild) TBIs have similar symptomology on clinical presentation.
Veterans are overall up to 4.4 fold more likely to develop dementia when they had TBI. Similar to rates reported for contact sport athletes.
Presenting these findings are the first step that Blind Veterans UK has taken in the process of continuing to investigate and research into connections between dementia in the blind and veteran populations. We have also adapted our services, and will continue to do so, to best support our blind veterans who also suffer with dementia.