Dementia and Brain disease
Dementia encompasses a group of diorders that impair brain function and often lead to a gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember such that a person's daily functioning is affected. Other common symptoms include emotional problems and problems with language. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease which makes up 50% to 70% of cases. Other common types include vascular dementia (25%), Lewy body dementia (15%), and frontotemporal dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the third leading cause of death and is now the leading cause of disability in Australia. One in two adults over the age of eighty are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia affects around 350,000 Australians, there are 30,000 Western Australians affected by Alzheimer’s disease, answers need to be found. Whilst no cure exists, a better insight into the experience of dementia can help to improve the care and quality of life for those affected.
To minimise the effects and ensure the best possible outcome is achieved, early dementia detection is vital. Understanding the causes of the disease and finding ways to prevent and postpone the progression of the disease is also critical.
Our researchers are making progress and have discovered the following so far:
- In a world first our study demonstrated that a lifestyle intervention significantly improved cognitive function in Australians with memory complaints aged 50 years and older.
- Confirmed the benefits of memory clinics for people with dementia which led to the establishment of memory clinics in Victoria and Western Australia
- Showed that smoking causes brain changes and is a risk factor for dementia, therefore advancing our understanding of the dementia risk factors
- identified that physical activity can postpone the onset of further memory decline.