Online program helps lower dementia risk

13 August 2015

Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) have developed a world first online dementia risk reduction program which has proven effective in helping people lower their risk of developing dementia.

More than 340,000 Australians are estimated to have been diagnosed with dementia and close to one million people could have a form of dementia by 2050 without a medical breakthrough or major public health intervention program.

The new online program called Body Brain Life has been developed by Professor Kaarin Anstey, Director of ANU Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing and colleagues from the ANU and the Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

"Our new program not only gives advice on ways to reduce the risk of dementia and strategies to implement a healthy lifestyle, but it also includes educational materials so people can learn more about dementia and its impact on daily life," Professor Anstey said.

She said online intervention programs have been developed for prevention of depression, and treatment of issues such as alcohol misuse and obesity but until now nothing had been developed to reduce risk of dementia.

In a trial of the Body Brain Life program, participants who were healthy but had multiple risk factors were assessed for their dementia risk before and after the trial through completing an online Alzheimer's disease risk assessment tool also developed by the researchers, called ANU-ADRI.

It was found those aged in their 50s who had a high risk of dementia and followed the 12 week Body Brain Life program were able to significantly lower their risk profile for late-life dementia.

This program is now being extended and redeveloped for use in general practice and ultimately by the public.

This research was published in the Journal Alzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions and was funded by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre for Early Detection and Prevention.