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Could finding out your 'brain age' help tackle dementia?

Could finding out your 'brain age' help tackle dementia?
3rd November 2014

Middle-aged individuals are set to find out their 'brain age' in a bid to shock them into adopting a healthier lifestyle, which could combat the risk of developing dementia.

University College London has devised this strategy in light of the growing numbers of people who are battling with the neurodegenerative disease. While no cure exists, certain lifestyle factors - such as regularly exercising and reducing one's alcohol intake - are believed to slash the risk of developing the condition.

If a 40-year-old man is told his brain's age is in fact nearer 60, it will hopefully inspire him to take more of an active effort in warding off the threat of cognitive decline. 

Examining a patient's blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, alcohol intake and diet will give doctors an indication of how healthy their brain is.

Public Health England (PHE) - the government's executive agency that works to improve and protect the nation's wellbeing - is overseeing the project and it is hoped that everyone between the age of 40 and 74 will benefit from this initiative.

PHE lead on dementia Dr Charles Alessi is due to discuss this proposal at a G7 convention on the degenerative condition this week in Japan. 

"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 Alessi said. 

This screening tool comes a few days after a major study suggested adopting a healthier lifestyle could delay the onset of dementia by as much as 12 years. 

However, the initiative has come in for criticism by Patient Group. The organisation claimed that as well as scaring individuals, "this sort of approach could put people off seeking help from their GP when they need it".

Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes