New research study identifying people ‘at risk’ of dementia coming to Sydney, Newcastle and Port Macquarie

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A new University of Sydney research study which is looking at whether a Healthy Brain Ageing (HBA) E-Health Platform can identify people aged 50 to 70 years of age who are ‘at risk’ of dementia is coming to Sydney, Newcastle and Port Macquarie.

Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre have been working with Alzheimer’s Australia NSW on this new research study. As part of the study, participants will be asked to complete this online Healthy Brain Ageing E-Health Questionnaire, which includes questions about medical history, day-to-day functioning and cognition, sleep, nutrition, and physical activity level as well as a brief online cognitive assessment.

For participants who complete the questionnaire and who live in the Sydney metro, Newcastle and  Port Macquarie area, they may also be asked to complete a face-to-face mood, medical and neuropsychological evaluation at the Healthy Brain Ageing Clinic in Camperdown, or at Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia and Memory Community Centres in Newcastle and Port Macquarie.

Professor Sharon Naismith, the Head of the Healthy Brain Ageing Program at the Brain and Mind Centre, said she was excited to launch this new and innovative study in partnership with Alzheimer’s Australia NSW.

“This study represents the critical first step for us to deliver the Healthy Brain Ageing e-health platform, a custom-built online system designed by a team of dementia experts, in collaboration with older adults, for the identification of individuals at risk of experiencing cognitive decline or dementia,” Professor Naismith said.

“During this first phase of the project, we are seeking participants from across NSW to help us determine if our newly launched online assessments accurately screen for dementia risk factors and cognitive deficits in comparison to traditional clinical measures.

“Once validated, we aim to make the Healthy Brain Ageing e-health platform available to all Australians. The advantage of this form of e-health platform is that it will be accessible to older people living in rural and remote communities, who typically struggle to access cognitive assessments and health interventions. Given that the numbers of people living with dementia will quadruple over the next 30 years, low-cost, accessible targeted platforms such as this are urgently required.”

Gary Thomas, Alzheimer’s Australia NSW’s Manager of Sector and Capacity Development, said this was an exciting new project, particularly for people in regional NSW.

“We are delighted to be working with the team from the Brain and Mind Centre on this project and are looking forward to seeing if such a platform can help identify people at risk of dementia and then help them reduce that risk of developing dementia,” Mr Thomas said.

“Delivering such a service this way could really help people in regional NSW who may not have such easy access to health services as their city counterparts.”

To be eligible to take the questionnaire, participants must be between the ages of 50 and 70 and have concerns about their thinking or memory. As this is looking at people who are at risk of dementia, you are not eligible to take the questionnaire if you already have a diagnosis of dementia. As well, people between the ages of 50 and 70 who do NOT have concerns regarding cognition will also not be eligible.

You can find out more about the study, and go online to do the questionnaire, here