Understanding Neuropsychiatric Symptoms to inform timely diagnosis, patient management and lived experience of dementia
Changes in behaviours such as aggression, apathy and depression are common in dementia and contribute to more problems with doing everyday activities, more rapid memory loss, and more reliance on carers/family. They are often reported as a reason for entry into aged care. New research has shown that later-life behavioural changes before the onset of memory problems, known as Mild Behavioural Impairment (MBI), are an early warning sign for dementia. Research is now needed that will help us understand why some people are more vulnerable to MBI while others are resilient, how early detection of this dementia-risk marker can be used to help health care professionals and families manage the clinical presentation of MBI, how care service provision can be supported, and relationships safeguarded. A better understanding will help inform clinical diagnostics and care provision strategies. My research program provides the world-first opportunity to answer these important questions. I will do this by drawing on 20 years of data from the PATH Through Life Project and by leading the first Australian Survey of Knowledge and Understanding of MBI (ASKU-MBI). This understanding is urgently needed to improve early diagnosis and treatment of this dementia-risk marker in Australia.
Moyra Mortby is a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Psychology, University of New South Wales (UNSW) and holds a conjoint appointment with Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA).