Report identifies seven ways to prevent dementia

April 12, 2018, University of New South Wales
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), in collaboration with Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), has released new findings on cognitive ageing and decline trends in Australia.

The report, led by UNSW scientist Professor Kaarin Anstey, CEPAR Chief Investigator and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow at NeuRA, highlights seven key modifiable lifestyle factors which are attributed to dementia; the rising numbers of people with dementia; and the increasing cost to families, carers, and the economy.

Dementia is the leading cause of disability among Australians over 65 and the second leading cause of death in Australia. In 2016, the direct costs alone of dementia were close to $9 billion in Australia, with a predicted increase to $12 billion by 2025.

Professor Anstey said the critical report highlights the prevalence of dementia in Australia, which doubles every five years between ages 70 and 84, and how our ageing population trends will result in greater numbers of people with dementia.

"Australia's ageing population is leading to an increasing number of Australians with the disease which will further impact individuals, society and the economy over the next decade," said Professor Anstey.

The report also found that the knowledge-base around the cause of dementia in the senior community varied greatly, raising the need for in-depth dementia awareness workshops and community involvement.

"While some detrimental attributing factors to dementia such as smoking and alcohol consumption were known, other factors connected to cognitive health were unknown to over 95% of the sample population," Professor Anstey said.

"This highlights the need for increased local community engagement and advocacy."

Anstey has estimated that close to 50% of dementia cases can be attributed to seven key modifiable lifestyle factors; midlife hypertension, diabetes, low educational attainment, smoking, physical inactivity, midlife obesity, and depression.

The impact of dementia goes far beyond individual health. The report noted there were direct, indirect and intangible costs of dementia for the wider society and significant indirect costs to Australia's economy. For example, and those who care for them often have to withdraw from the workforce.

For someone with moderate dementia, the care hours are 17 per week on average, while severe cases involve hours similar to a full-time job. In 2016, the cost of foregone work hours was estimated to be $5.5 billion.

The report also brought attention to an under-researched area of —financial frailty. CEPAR Director, Scientia Professor John Piggott, said what was clear from the 2018 CEPAR report was that those with cognitive impairment were more susceptible to poor financial decision-making.

"Our retirement income system is very complex and requires a lot of active decisions. We are only beginning to think about how population ageing will affect the decision-making ability of older cohorts and what insights psychology and behavioural finance can bring," said Professor Piggott.

More than 400,000 Australians are currently living with dementia. These figures have been revised upward from past projections. More accurate projections of dementia rates out to 2030 are critical to enable government policy makers and community services to better plan for the impact of cognitive decline in the future.

Commenting on the outcomes of the , Professor Anstey said further investment into ageing research is needed to identify more risk factors, adapt the workplace for older workers, and develop strategies to guide financial decision-making in older age.

"We need to develop better diagnostic tests and assessments, increase community education to ensure risk factors attributed to are better managed, and support carers to reduce carer distress in the broader community," Professor Anstey said.

Explore further: Report highlights scale of dementia epidemic in Africa

More information: Cognitive ageing and decline: Insights from recent research: www.neura.edu.au/neura-cepar/

Related Stories

Report highlights scale of dementia epidemic in Africa

September 28, 2017
Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) has published its first report on the impact of dementia in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), at its 4th Sub-Saharan African Regional Conference. The report, co-authored by researchers from ...

Helping prevent falls in older adults with dementia

March 23, 2018
Annually, about one-third of all American adults aged 65 or older experience a fall. Falls are a major cause of medical problems, especially among those who have dementia. In fact, twice the number of older adults with dementia ...

Report highlights increase in Alzheimer's drug prescriptions

January 20, 2016
A new report released today shows that Alzheimer's drug prescriptions have increased six times in the last decade, the proportion of people receiving a dementia diagnosis has increased over the last year by 112 per 100,000, ...

Higher risk of dementia among frail older adults

November 16, 2017
The risk of developing dementia is around 3.5 times higher in frail older adults than in their non-frail peers, according to a new study from UCL.

Nine things that can affect whether you get dementia – and what you can do about them

July 21, 2017
Dementia is by no means an inevitable result of ageing. In fact, one in three dementia cases can be prevented, according to new findings published in The Lancet.

Online dementia publication sheds light on latest research

September 21, 2017
More than 400,000 Australians live with dementia and that number is expected to climb to 1.1 million by 2056.

Recommended for you

Scientists discover why some people with brain markers of Alzheimer's have no dementia

August 16, 2018
A new study from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has uncovered why some people that have brain markers of Alzheimer's never develop the classic dementia that others do. The study is now available in the ...

Researchers identify new genes that may contribute to Alzheimer's disease

August 14, 2018
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, working with scientists across the nation on the Alzheimer's Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), have discovered new genes that will further current understanding of the ...

Deaths from resident-to-resident incidents in dementia offers insights to inform policy

August 14, 2018
Analyzing the incidents between residents in dementia in long-term care homes may hold the key to reducing future fatalities among this vulnerable population, according to new research from the University of Minnesota School ...

Scientists propose a new lead for Alzheimer's research

August 14, 2018
A University of Adelaide-led team of scientists has suggested a potential link between iron in our cells and the rare gene mutations that cause Alzheimer's disease, which could provide new avenues for future research.

Eye conditions provide new lens screening for Alzheimer's disease

August 8, 2018
Alzheimer's disease is difficult to diagnose as well as treat, but researchers now have a promising new screening tool using the window to the brain: the eye.

Potential indicator for the early detection of dementias

August 7, 2018
Researchers at the University of Basel have discovered a factor that could support the early detection of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. This cytokine is induced by cellular stress reactions ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.