Better brains for better lives

CHeBA Better Brain Better Life forum

The Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW has joined forces with Genworth in an effort to help change the future of ageing through a series of public forums promoting strategies for better brain health.

On 24thJuly, nearly 600 people packed the John Clancy auditorium at the University of New South Wales to attend the first in a series of four educational public forums to be conducted over 2014 and 2015 entitled ‘Better Brain. Better Life’.  More than 200 study participants from CHeBA’s three major research projects: the Sydney Memory & Ageing Study, the Older Australian Twins Study and the Sydney Centenarian Study attended to hear the latest outcomes from the research to which they are generously contributing.

Co-Director Professor Perminder Sachdev says he is delighted to have Genworth on board as platinum sponsor of CHeBA’s series of ‘Better Brain. Better Life’ forums.

The forum was opened by the well-known actor and official Ambassador for CHeBA, PJ Lane, who provided the audience with a personal insight into Alzheimer’s which his father, Don Lane, was diagnosed with some years before he passed away.  The Mayor of Randwick, Councillor Scott Nash, delivered a supportive community address and confirmed Randwick City Council’s commitment to creating a dementia-friendly city and increasing public awareness.

The ‘Better Brain. Better Life’ forums are designed to emphasise the modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias so that the public are able to adopt strategies to assist in preventing or delaying the onset of age-related cognitive disorders such as dementia. 

 “With the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias affecting three million Australians by 2050, increased investment in community campaigns alongside our research is essential to help change the future of ageing,” Co-Director of CHeBA Professor Henry Brodaty said. “Our intention with these forums is to help the public become aware that it is never too early or too late to commence preventative strategies to reduce one’s risk of cognitive decline.”

The first forum in the series included engaging presentations from Professor Henry Brodaty on how CHeBA’s research is impacting the rest of the world, Professor Perminder Sachdev on why we age, and Dr Nicole Kochan on reversing mild cognitive impairment and implementing memory strategies for a better life.  The latest clinical trials looking at drug treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment were announced at this forum by Professor Brodaty. These drugs have the possibility of stopping the disease process before Alzheimer’s becomes clinically significant or at least slowing down the disease process in people already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Dr Adith Mohan summarised CHeBA’s world-first cognitive training and brain stimulation trial. 

 “The hope is that through brain stimulation we will not only be able to achieve sustained improvement in people’s thinking abilities, provide benefit to people with mild cognitive impairment, and perhaps even slow the decline in memory in those affected, to provide a longer period of good quality life,” said Professor Sachdev.

Dr Kim Delbaere spoke on her research into falls and touched on the relationship between the brain and stability, while Dr Belinda Goodenough presented an intriguing talk showcasing how we visually process the world around us, and how the brain deals with optical illusions we encounter on a day to day basis.  All presentations are accessible via the CHeBA website.

Collectively, the message of these talks is not only to showcase the wonderment of the brain and the latest research coming out of CHeBA, but also that we have the capacity to improve our brain health. 

“While ageing is inevitable, losing our mental capacity is not,” says Professor Sachdev.

Date Published: 
Thursday, 5 June 2014
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