A hero of the dementia revolution

Two old people walking on a long straight path between two lakes
Dementia research is taking our knowledge further and further ahead

Have you heard of the dementia revolution? It’s been going on for 20 years now. Professor Perminder Sachdev is one of the heroes of the dementia revolution. In 2012, he co-founded the Centre of Healthy Brain Aging (CHeBA) at UNSW, which promotes brain health and prevention of dementia. He leads three longitudinal cognitive ageing studies: Sydney Memory and Ageing Study, Older Australian Twins Study, and Sydney Centenarian Study.

In 2022 Professor Sachdev was awarded the prestigious Ryman Prize for people working in the field of older people’s health.

Cast aside those old, fatalistic assumptions about dementia! That was then. This is now. In this case, knowledge is power and knowledge is also a kindness.

Professor Sachdev clearly summarised the three areas of his own dementia research to Kathryn Ryan on Radio NZ, 7 February 2023. It’s a fascinating interview. (Bear in mind that the findings of these longitudinal studies in Australia are supported by others around the world, for example at Harvard: Good genes are nice, but joy is better.)

Listen here!

World-renowned neuropsychiatrist on longevity and how to stave off dementia

5 new-to-me facts about dementia from Professor Sachdev

  • The word self-ageism is new to me. The meaning is obvious, saving a long explanation which is annoying to both the speaker and the listener.
  • Centenarians studied by Professor Sachdev and colleagues are typically both optimistic (no surprise) and “contentious” — wow!
  • Centenarians have a very long health-span: the extra years are healthy years almost to the end.
  • The most common cause of dementia is organic disease (70% –80%?)
  • Delaying the onset of dementia in the population by 5 years would halve the cost of caring for people with dementia (I heard this first at Let’s Talk About Dementia! 2022, a conference run by Dementia Wellington and Age Concern).

Good news for every age

A few basic lifestyle guidelines have a powerful impact on cardiovascular health, longevity and immune health. We know that from long term studies of hundreds of thousands of subjects. Turns out that pretty much the same old common-sense advice works for brain health too.

So there are now multiple reasons to stand up and move, eat well, sleep plenty, stimulate our brains, foster relationships, and take our meds as instructed.

You are already doing a lot of this, I know. It’s in a good cause: self interest. Plus it carries a bonus by helping with family relations, the economy, and the planet.

Nice work!

Follow Write Into Life

20 thoughts on “A hero of the dementia revolution

  1. Anonymous says:

    Keeping on thinking seems to work

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      In a nutshell.

  2. A fascinating post

  3. It’s great to know I’m on the right track. Thank you.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yes, aren’t we lucky?

  4. What a very interesting post Rachel. It seems that good old common sense is the main factor when trying to maximise our health span. Eating well, exercising, keeping our brains active, and maintaining a purpose in life. All things that most of us realise are essential but, sadly, many ignore for various reasons.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s true, Peter. And yet there are so many people who simply cannot comply with common sense for reasons beyond their control. It boils down to modern life: for too many, poverty and pressures and packaging. It’s a privilege to be able to exert common sense. Easy for me to forget…

      1. Yes indeed! I am on day 3 of being encouraged, by my doctor, back into exercise after a forced 18 month hiatus due to various health problems. My, how I ache, but I feel good!

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        I am extremely happy to hear about this development. Yesss!

      3. Thank you. I’d forgotten how much muscles could ache from exercise!

  5. judibwriting says:

    I endeavor to use what I have for as long as I can and have learned over many years of living with a chronic disease disability to adjust ongoing declines and dips to stay safe as I can. I need to pay attention and adapt to each literal step on the way. Maintaining my overall health certainly benefits from doing all of the above suggestions.”Self-aging” is new to me as well! Thanks for this spotlight.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      It’s amazing how you (and others) manage your lives with such particular pressures and constraints. I’m impressed and learn from you.

  6. Rebecca Budd says:

    I love the word “contentious.” A marvelous article, Rachel!!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yeah, bring it on!

      1. Rebecca Budd says:

        I’m with you!!!!

  7. judithhb says:

    Great article Rachel. And wasn’t that a fascinating and rewarding interview between Kathryn Ryan and Prof Sachdev!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      So clear and so wide-ranging, even though he just touched the surface. She was on the ball, as usual!

  8. Iveta Šramelová says:

    Úžasne informácie! Ďakujem vám za vašu aktivitu – ste famózna:))!

  9. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for publishing this post, Rachel. As I believe we need to talk openly and without stigma about dementia. It is a cruel way to complete a life well lived. Here’s hoping a magic pill to stop the decline of our brains occurs sooner than later. I have linked this post to my latest one.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you, Suzanne. We are on the same page.

%d bloggers like this: