What can we do to Prevent Alzheimer’s Dementia?

Written by Medical & Mind Weight Loss psychiatrist, Dr Terence Chong.

I was grateful for the invitation from Manningham council to be on their Community Forum panel this week entitled “Dementia – Prevent, Live, Plan“.  Over 200 members of the public attended this event which was a testament to the importance of this topic.  It was great to work with fellow panellists, Ms Amelia Suckling from Alzheimer’s Australia and general practitioner Dr Malcolm Clark.


Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Factors

I spoke about a recent review by Prof Karin Anstey and colleagues in the Journal for Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease which examined many possible risk factors for Alzheimer’s.  The researchers found there was sufficient evidence to support a number of these risk factors as being targets for efforts to reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer’s.  I summarised these risk factors into a diagram:

prevent Alzheimers dementia

  • In young adulthood – increasing levels of education.
  • Throughout adulthood – increasing physical, cognitive and social activity, treating depresion, healthy diet, avoiding pollutants.
  • In middle-age – decreasing cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, smoking.


Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease

The Australian Guidelines for Physical Activity suggest:

  • Any activity is better than none and gradually build up
  • Be active on most days or everyday
  • 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous physical activity every week
  • Muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week

The Global Council for Brain Health also provides useful information about physical activity.

Other recommendations include:

  • Exercise your brain – use it or lose it eg. courses, reading, crosswords
  • Keep socially active – catch up with family, friends, community groups
  • Healthy diet – the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets are recommended
  • Reduce cardiovascular risk factors – diabetes, blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, smoking; your GP and Medical and Mind Weight Loss can help with this
  • Treat depression – there are many effective lifestyle, psychological and medical treatments available so see your GP and visit Beyond Blue


Measuring and Reducing Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

If you would like to measure your own risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, I recommend the Australian National University’s Risk Calculator (ANU-ADRI) which not only calculates your risk but more importantly, provides you with suggestions for what you can do to reduce your risk!

Finally, if you or loved ones have any concerns about memory or other cognitive functions, do not dismiss it but get it checked out as early detection provides you with the best chance to be able to do something about it; as I discussed this on Channel Nine News and in an MJA podcast.

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