ANU Spaces - Dr Joanna Brooks

What do you do at ANU?

I joined CRAHW as a Dementia Collaborative Research Centre Research Fellow in May 2014. I’m delighted to be working within such a high achieving and inter-disciplinary group at the ANU.

What does your study involve?

We have one current study exploring how people of different ages perceive their risk of Alzheimer’s disease and whether this perception is related to actual risk. The key aspect of this research is that we’re exploring risk estimation accuracy in people of all ages – from age 18 through to age 95. Our main aim is to understand whether there are age-related gaps in people’s knowledge and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease. 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.

What is your favourite spot on campus?

I love Vanilla Bean at the John Curtin Medical School – the perfect spot for a morning coffee, meeting, lunch with friends, or afternoon tea.

Why do you like it?

Vanilla Bean always has yummy food and snacks and the coffee is really good.

If you were free for an afternoon, you would…

Take my Ragdoll and Abyssinian cats for a walk (yes they walk on a leash) and then read a book (or maybe catch up on Game of Thrones) with a relaxing cup of tea.

What do you enjoy most about studying healthy ageing?

It’s very rewarding to know that the research you do could make a difference to the lives of others – helping people live healthy and productive lives for as long as possible is something that I’m very passionate about.

What do you think the key issues are for an ageing population?

I think one of the key issues for an ageing population is Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – we need to prevent this disease from occurring. The social, economic, health and personal costs of dementia are extremely high – we need to find ways to reduce these costs and the occurrence of the disease.

In your view is this one of the most important issues of this generation?

In today’s world people are living longer than ever before and with increasing life expectancy comes a higher incidence of neurodegenerative disorders like dementia. I think this is one of the most important issues of this generation.

If you had a message on health and wellbeing you wanted to share with the general population, what would that be?

I think the main message is to enjoy a healthy lifestyle which might involve regular physical activity, a balanced diet, good social engagement, relaxation and conducting cognitive activities which can take the form of reading a book, playing a board game, doing a crossword puzzle. I think it’s also good to be willing to modify certain behaviours or lifestyle factors that may not be good for us (i.e., smoking) and embrace those that are.

You have just moved from Adelaide. Tell us what you like most about living in the Nation’s Capital.

Canberra is very different to Adelaide! I really love Canberra – it’s a vibrant, transient, multi-cultural and accepting city with fantastic cafes. The best part of all is that it’s not too hot and there are far fewer bugs (i.e., ‘flying things’) than Adelaide. There is a strong sense of community in Canberra which is very appealing to me being from the UK. This ‘community’ is unique in that it is made up of different types of people from different places – it’s great!