New tool for measuring Alzheimer's disease risk perception

7 October 2014

Australian researchers are undertaking a new study to help people of all ages evaluate whether they are accurate in their perception of their risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. One in four Australians over 85 suffer from dementia and around 1,700 new Alzheimer's cases are recorded each week in Australia.

"The more aware we are of the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease early in life the greater hope we have of modifying risk and ultimately preventing the disease in later life," said lead researcher Dr Joanna Brooks, Research Fellow at the ANU Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing.

The study will explore people's perception of, and exposure to, factors known to be associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, such as smoking, depression, pesticide exposure and low social engagement.

Current interventions for lowering Alzheimer's disease risk are targeted at people over the age of 60. But evidence suggests that risk factors may occur in adults as young as 20, pointing to the need to consider prevention in early adulthood.

"Our new study will help us identify gaps in people's information, knowledge or understanding of risk factors and help people modify that risk," Dr Brooks said.

"We hope our study will help inform the development of future preventative strategies and interventions."

The study is looking for people over the age of 18 worldwide to complete the new Alzheimer's disease risk perception tool online.

Contact Dr Joanna Brooks on (02) 6125 8772 or Joanna.Brooks@anu.edu.au to take part, or for further information about the study.