The world’s first publicly funded brain health program has been launched by Alzheimer’s Australia to help cut the growing rate of dementia.
The Your Brain Matters program is a guide to improved mental wellbeing based on increasing evidence that good mental, physical and cardiac health can result in a decreased likelihood of developing dementia.
The program revolves around the yourbrainmatters.org.au website, which provides information and activities to improve brain, body and heart health.
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is an incurable cumulative disease that can best be described as working much like an hour glass that can’t be turned over.
Slowly, year by year, grain by grain, a person’s cognitive abilities fall to the bottom of the glass, where they stay.
Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Glenn Rees thanked the Australian government for funding Your Brain Matters, which he said came at a crucial time.
There were almost 300,000 Australians with dementia, but 1 million were projected to have the illness by 2050, Mr Rees said.
“The Australian Government is the first government globally to introduce public policy around dementia risk reduction through the Department of Health and Ageing, which means it is being recognised as a chronic disease and not just a normal part of ageing, and for that we congratulate them,” Mr Rees said.
“There is evidence to suggest that, for example, if we reduced the physical inactivity rate in Australia by 5% every five years, dementia prevalence would be cut by 11% by 2051,” he said.
“That’s around 100,000 fewer Australians living with dementia as a consequence of addressing just one risk factor.”
The Your Brain Matters program was launched to coincide with Dementia Awareness Week from September 21-28. The 2012 Dementia Awareness Week theme is BrainHealth: Making the Connections.
As part of Dementia Awareness Week, international dementia expert Dr Serge Gauthier is conducting a national tour to discuss the disease and current strategies to reduce its prevalence.
“Evidence-based programs like Your Brain Matters, developed by Alzheimer’s Australia, are crucial in trying to stem the incidence of dementia,” Dr Gauthier said.
The tour ends September 27.