Can we reduce the risk of dementia in the over 75’s?

Researchers at the University of Cambridge are exploring an whether an internet based intervention could encourage healthy lifestyle changes in people aged over 75, who are at a higher risk of developing dementia.

Researching

Risk

Up to a third of dementia cases could be linked to lifestyle behaviours, such as smoking, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and obesity. Professor Brayne’s team will explore whether an internet based intervention could encourage healthy lifestyle changes in people aged over 75, who are at a higher risk of developing dementia. They will take advantage of an existing cohort to recruit 144 volunteers throughout Cambridgeshire, Nottingham and Newcastle for the 12 week intervention. If successful, this study could lead to a larger trial to look into whether healthy behaviour changes could reduce the risk of developing dementia in the over 75s.

Despite an aging population, incidence rates of dementia in the UK have declined over the past 20 years suggesting that dementia prevention is possible. By encouraging people to keep physically active, eat a balanced diet, not smoke and control their blood pressure the risk of dementia can be reduced. It is particularly important to promote lifestyle changes that support healthy brain aging in groups at a higher risk of developing dementia, such as the over 75s. However, face to face methods of lifestyle are not only costly but require a high level of staff training. Professor Carol Brayne’s team hope to test whether an internet based intervention can cause healthy behavioural changes in people aged 75 or over. If successful, this study could lead to a larger trial to test the effect of positive lifestyle changes in those aged 75 or over on dementia risk.

Professor Brayne’s team will recruit 144 volunteers who are already enrolled in a large cohort study.  The participants will be asked to use an interactive internet intervention which allows them to set personal goals, make action plans and monitor the goals, all supported by a motivational coach. As part of the intervention, the volunteers will be given weighing scales and a blood pressure monitor to enter measurements online. It also contains videos on lifestyle change and encourages participants to join lifestyle activity groups. After 12 weeks Professor Brayne’s team will analyse the data to see whether it is possible to use an internet based intervention to encourage healthy lifestyle changes in the over 75’s.

A scientist holding a model of a human brain

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Carol Brayne

Awarded to
Prof. Carol Brayne

Institution
University of Cambridge

Current Award
£784,374.66

Dates
1 January 2018 - 30 June 2020

Full project name
The feasibility and practicality of dementia risk reduction in the older population: A pilot trial.