BetterBrains trial to help prevent dementia

Can targeted lifestyle changes help prevent declines in thinking and memory in middle-aged Australians with a family history of dementia?

The BetterBrains clinical trial at Monash University aims to find out the answer. The trial is recruiting 1510 people from across Australia and, as the first of its kind, is being conducted completely online.

The trial is led by Associate Professor Yen Ying Lim from Monash’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health and will help researchers identify effective ways to slow thinking and memory decline.

“Previous research estimates that approximately 40 per cent of all dementia can be attributed to highly modifiable risk factors such as low mood, poor sleep, poor heart health and low cognitive and social engagement,” Associate Professor Lim said.

“Our team wants to find out if targeting at least one of these risk factors can help preserve thinking and memory, and whether this has a ‘domino effect’ on other key risk factors. For example, if you improve your sleep, then does your mood also improve as a result?

“The BetterBrains trial could also deliver critical insights into how best to reduce the risk of developing dementia for people in higher-risk groups, such as those with a family history of the disease.”

After completing an initial assessment, participants will be allocated at random to one of two study groups.

One group will receive a personalised healthy lifestyle intervention program which includes telephone and online sessions with a BetterBrains Coach, all of whom are qualified allied health clinicians, as well as educational material about living a healthy lifestyle to improve brain health. The other group will receive only the educational material.

Associate Professor Lim said the global numbers of people living with dementia were expected to triple by 2050, with 152 million people set to be impacted by the disease due to the rapidly ageing population.

“This research is critical to discover the most effective ways to reduce the incidence of dementia in our community,” she said.

“I would encourage anyone who is between 40 and 70 years old and has a family history of dementia to consider taking part in this trial to learn more about what can be done to reduce the risk of developing dementia.”

Participants can learn more about the BetterBrains trial, as well as sign up to participate via the BetterBrains website: www.betterbrains.org.au.