Prevention, not genetics, the key factor

September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Dementia is one of New Zealand’s most significant and growing healthcare challenges. Almost 70,000 New Zealanders have dementia and that number is expected to almost triple by 2050. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. This month, Alzheimer’s Otago senior community educator Donna Watt is sharing recent findings with The News readers .

How’s your memory?

Losing the keys is the most popular complaint I hear, and I think most of us have been there.

Usually this is because of a failure of attention rather than memory.

If you have arrived home, keys in hand, while also juggling groceries and surrounded by hungry children and pets, and you’re trying to get the tea on, while putting the groceries away — you get the drift.

It’s no wonder you can’t find the keys the next time you need them.

A healthy brain will allow you to retrace your steps and remember the things you did on arrival and most of the time you will be able to locate the keys.

Some of us worry about our brains because we have supported a parent or grandparent with dementia, and we’re concerned about the genetic links.

The recent ‘‘Preventing Alzheimer’s’’ presentation by Professor and psychogeriatrician Yoram Barak was reassuring, as research shows not many of us are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s.

Even if we are, adopting the recommended prevention strategies can hugely reduce our risk.

Talking to older people about this topic is fairly easy, but it is proving harder to reach people in their middle years. And that’s a problem because that is the time when the rubber of prevention strategies really hits the road.

The latest research is scary — currently one in nine of us are likely to develop dementia as we age. That percentage is likely to increase to one in three for our children and grandchildren.

So the time to act is now.

If you missed the presentation, contact me to get a copy of the Powerpoint — we want this information out there.

If you would like to see Yoram speak to another group, let me know. He is as keen as mustard.