Dr. Charles Alessi: 'Dementia is going through that phase where people are very scared of it - but you can use the fact they are willing to change their behaviour because they are scared of it to enable to make that change take place'
Dr. Charles Alessi: 'Dementia is going through that phase where people are very scared of it - but you can use the fact they are willing to change their behaviour because they are scared of it to enable to make that change take place'

Middle-aged people to be told 'brain age' to help cut rates of dementia

Aim is to shock them into changing their lifestyle

Ian Johnston
Monday 03 November 2014 01:42
Comments

Middle-aged people are to be told how fast their brain is ageing in an attempt to cut rates of dementia.

A computer program has been developed to enable GPs to give an estimate of someone’s “brain age” after finding out about how much exercise they take, whether they smoke, how much they drink and other factors.

Dr Charles Alessi, who leads on dementia for Public Health England, which designed the new screening system, told The Daily Telegraph: “Dementia is going through that phase where people are very scared of it - but you can use the fact they are willing to change their behaviour because they are scared of it to enable to make that change take place.

“It’s become clear that actions to tackle smoking, drinking, sedentary behaviour and poor diet could really reduce the risk of dementia in later life.

“The tool compares the rate of brain aging compared to the actual age of the individual. We would have something that would assist people in managing their own behaviour.”

He added that despite being 60 years old he could achieve a brain age of 96 if he adopted a particularly bad lifestyle.

Research by Cambridge University academics found people who did not do 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week or take five 30-minute walks a week were more than 80 per cent more likely to get dementia in later life. Obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes also raise the risks of the disease by between 46 and 61 per cent.

Roger Goss, from Patient Concern, suggested telling people their brains were older than they were might be counter-productive.

“This is heavy-handed and intrusive, not only could this frighten people, on the basis of spurious forecasts, but this sort of approach could people off seeking help from their GP when they need it,” he said.

“These kinds of ideas are outrageous – people don’t want to be nagged by their doctor into changing their lifestyle, these are the choice we make as individuals, and GPs should be there when we go to them for help, not forcing this stuff down our throats.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in