More than 240 people attended the recent Keep Your Life in Mind: Dementia Research to Practice Forum to learn about the latest research on dementia including: risk reduction, the links between diabetes and dementia, and the links between traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease.
The forum was opened by the ACT Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Meegan Fitzharris, who spoke about her support for dementia research and the importance of risk reduction.
People living with dementia and their carers also participated in the forum, including Canberra resident Marina Germolus who shared her experience of living with dementia. Marina explained how she does all that she can to help manage the condition by being physically, mentally and socially active, and how educating the community could remove the stigma associated with dementia.
One of Dementia Australia’s most enthusiastic fundraisers, Cameron Jones, shared the inspiration behind his fundraising – his mother, who is living with younger onset dementia. Since her diagnosis, Cameron has run more than 60 half-marathons, 6 marathons and 2 ultra-marathons, raising awareness and more than $64,000 towards dementia research.
Dr Fatima Nasrallah from the Queensland Brain Institute spoke about the growing evidence of a possible link between traumatic brain injury and the development of dementia. Traumatic brain injuries result from an external impact to the head that are classified as mild (concussion), moderate and severe. They can disrupt normal brain function and may affect a person’s mental abilities in the long term.
According to Dr Nasrallah, the link between traumatic brain injury and dementia is complex and not well understood. However, evidence suggests that exposure to a single or repetitive traumatic brain injury is one of the strongest risk factors for the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. Her talk highlighted the potential of neuroimaging in the diagnosis of the pathological link between traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease.
The clear message that resonated with attendees was while there currently is no cure for dementia, research is discovering that people who maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, participate in social activities and monitor their health may potentially delay or possibly reduce the risk of developing dementia.