Research pinpoints critical point in dementia battle

Research pinpoints the critical life stage when prevention tactics should start.

Dementia prevention starts when?

The lifestyle decisions you make in middle age have a huge impact on your likelihood of developing dementia, according to the latest research. The ongoing study also finds that a key factor in preventing dementia starts with the early identification of Alzheimer’s.

Dementia affects about 50 million people around the world – 425,000 of them in Australia – and is the second leading cause of death in Australia. Recent estimates show that dementia costs the healthcare system around $15 billion a year.

Craig Ritchie, Professor of Psychiatry and Ageing at the University of Edinburgh and a world-leading dementia expert, says research shows that middle age is where the fight begins.

“Alzheimer's disease has its genesis in your 50s, 40s, even earlier,” said the lead researcher of the PREVENT project, a major international consortium working towards identifying early risk factors.

Speaking at an International Dementia Conference in Sydney, he said that while it was highly unlikely Alzheimer's dementia could be cured –  explaining that it was the “final end point” of Alzheimer’s disease – “if you detect Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages, who’s to say you can’t cure that?”

"The evidence we’re seeing now suggests that decisions you make in mid-life can impact your chances of getting dementia, as well as your brain health after diagnosis.”

The keys to minimising the risk of dementia, he said, were a good exercise routine, weight control, a balanced diet, and not smoking from an early age.

“Taking on new cognitive challenges that kept the brain active was also likely to be protective.”

In 2017, the Lancet Commission released a life-course model for dementia risk. Key recommendations included:

  • Be ambitious about prevention. Interventions for established risk factors may have the potential to delay or prevent one-third of dementias
  • Individualise dementia care. Good dementia care spans medical, social and supportive care and should be tailored to individual and cultural needs, preferences and priorities
  • Care for family carers. Family carers are at high risk of depression. Effective interventions reduce the risk and treat the symptoms, and should be made available
  • Plan for the future. People with dementia and their families value discussions about the future and important upcoming decisions
  • Manage neuropsychiatric symptoms. Management of the neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia – including agitation, low mood or psychosis – is usually psychological, social and environmental, with drug treatment reserved for more severe symptoms
  • Consider end of life. One-third of older people die with dementia, so it is essential that professionals working in end-of-life care consider whether a patient has dementia, as they may be unable to make decisions about their care or express their needs and wishes.

Do you closely follow developments in dementia research? Have you had experience in caring for a loved one with dementia?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    12th Jun 2018
    Seriously, when are people going to take this seriously? If you are serious about treating and getting rid of Dementia go do some serious research on Cannabis Oil. It's not hard to find if you really want answers, and as you know, modern mainstream medicine has NO answers for this dreaded condition. Cannabis Oil is highly successful in treating, and in many cases curing, not just Dementia but a raft of other ailments like Alzheimer's, Parkinsons, epilepsy and the biggey, Cancer. Interestingly the Cancer Research Institute has finally acknowledged that Cannabis is an effective cure for most types of cancer. About time. BTW did you know that Cannabis has only been outlawed in the west since the early fifties, thanks to the big drug companies lobbying the govt. to have it outlawed because they couldn't patent Cannabis. The worlds most healing plant has been subjected to the most outrageous lies for years and we sheep swallowed the whole spin hook, line and sinker. Well, not anymore for this little black duck (sheep?) seriously.
    12th Jun 2018
    This is an interesting to read Funkee I have taken note.
    17th Jun 2018
    Yes I have read all the info on Cannabis Oil too, but our Government has only just legalized hemp seeds for food, they are slow on the uptake on new developments when it comes to health. Might have something to do with Mrs Turnbull's links to pharmaceutical companies. They want to be able to make money out of cancer and other diseases, not cure people.
    12th Jun 2018
    I agree with you 100% Funkee!
    12th Jun 2018
    If denentia/alzheimers is hereditary (???) all the above (exercise, diet, cognitive exercises, sleep, cannibus oil will not help anything!)..Not sure why there was no mention of genetics but is strange to see it run in generations of families..!
    17th Jun 2018
    It can run in generations of families because families usually have the same lifestyles and diets. Personally I do not believe in genetics, you may have more chance of something but you can change that buy your own lifestyle and diet.
    17th Jun 2018
    People who adopt whole food plant based diets usually have less chance of of getting dementia and other diseases.
    On the Ball
    22nd Oct 2018
    Musicveg wrote: "It can run in generations of families because families usually have the same lifestyles and diets."
    I have seen this syndrome affect whole (small) towns. Not necessarily with dementia but with a whole raft of complaints.
    But while it may be hereditary, it would be very foolish to give up and say "I cant do anything - its in my genes". Rather, once it IS known that it is in one's family, all the more reason to get in early and do everything to prevent or at least slow down the effects.

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