Ten siblings. One third live (or have passed away) with dementia.

The scourge of dementia runs deep in Lorna Clement’s family.

Of the eleven children her dear parents raised, four live (or have passed away) with complications of the disease. Her mother also died of Alzheimer’s disease, bringing the family total to five.

This is the mystery of dementia – One family, with two very different ageing outcomes.

You will have read that lifestyle is an important factor in reducing the risk of dementia. We also know diet is a key factor, and an aspect that Dr Ruth Peter’s is exploring at NeuRA. Along with leading teams delivering high profile evidence synthesis work in the area of dementia risk reduction, Dr Peters has a particular interest in hypertension (that is, high blood pressure) and in the treatment of hypertension in older adults.

“We have known for a while that treating high blood pressure reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, but it is becoming clearer that controlling blood pressure may also help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Now we need to know what the best blood pressure is to protect brain health.”

You are invited to read more about Lorna’s story and Dr Peter’s work, by clicking ‘Read the full story’ below.

Please support dementia research at NeuRA

Will you consider a gift today to help Dr Peter’s unlock the secrets of healthy ageing and reduce the risk of dementia? Research into ageing and dementia at NeuRA will arm doctors and other medical professionals with the tools they need to help prevent dementia in our communities.

Thank you for your support.

Do today’s families seem smaller than the ones you grew up in?

If so, you’d be right… families are shrinking. Since the 1940s the fertility rate – that is the number of children who are born per woman – has dropped by 45 percent.

Remember those simple family holidays and crowded Christmas dinner tables? There were a lot of mouths to feed, but somehow life seemed less complicated.

Families don’t come much bigger than Lorna’s

Introducing Lorna Clements – NeuRA supporter, grandmother, daughter, sister and widow.

One of 11 children, Lorna’s life has been richly blessed with laughter and love. Today, aged 85, she enjoys good health, zero cognitive impairment and an active lifestyle.

But sadly, the scourge of dementia runs deep in her family. It has taken four of her siblings (some dying very young), as well as her dear mother.

Lorna shares the pain of watching her loved ones suffer.

“It is a dreadful disease and I’m so thankful it skipped me,” says Lorna. “I’ve been widowed 17 years and I’m grateful I can live independently.”

The later years of the disease are the hardest, Lorna remembers.

“There’s no quality of life at all,” says Lorna. “In the end, it’s even a struggle to put a simple sentence together. You able unable to communicate in any meaningful way. You can talk, but their beautiful faces just smile blankly back at you.”

This is the mystery of dementia. One family, with two very different ageing outcomes.

Did you know…

… that between 1996 and 2016, the number of individuals aged 85 and over has doubled?

Whilst we celebrate living longer, it does not always mean ageing well.

As you know, Australia is facing unprecedented levels of people at risk of neurodegeneration – the loss of memory and cognitive function that can occur with ageing. But those that develop diseases like dementia seem to be at the mercy of a cruel lottery.

However research conducted by NeuRA and its partners is showing dementia isn’t about chance… it’s a combination of one’s genetic makeup and the everyday lifestyle decisions we make.

Focusing on the positive, blood pressure, cholesterol and cognitive decline.

Last year you may remember reading about Professor Kaarin Anstey’s work in dementia prevention, and the top ten healthy habits that will reduce your risk of cognitive decline.

Research tells us that an active lifestyle, being socially connected, consuming moderate amounts of alcohol and not smoking have all been associated with a reduction in your dementia risk.

We also know that diet is a key factor.

Dr Ruth Peters is a Senior Research Scientist at NeuRA, and works with Professor Anstey. Along with leading teams delivering high profile evidence synthesis work in the area of dementia risk reduction, Dr Peters has a particular interest in hypertension (that is, high blood pressure) and in the treatment of hypertension in older adults.

“We have known for a while that treating high blood pressure reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, but it is becoming clearer that controlling blood pressure may also help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Now we need to know what the best blood pressure is to protect brain health.”

Dr Peters is also investigating the ways that cholesterol and the different types of cholesterol may affect the risk of developing cognitive decline or dementia. Using data from several international and local research studies, she seeking to understand whether there is a particular level of cholesterol that is best for brain health.

Once upon a time, high blood pressure (or cholesterol) and dementia would have been treated as separate medical issues.

Today, we’re learning just how linked they are, thanks to your support.

How Lorna escaped dementia

Throughout the years, Lorna has often wondered what she did to age well. Dr Peters and her team’s research may help answer these questions.

Mr Eisenhauer, prevention is always better than the cure, and right now we know that the greatest prevention for diseases like dementia comes down to making significant lifestyle decisions. But this is just the first step, and we need to learn more about specific genetic and lifestyle factors that lower our risk.

Will you consider a gift today to help Dr Peter’s unlock the secrets of healthy ageing and reduce the risk of dementia? Research into ageing and dementia at NeuRA will arm doctors and other medical professionals with the tools they need to help prevent dementia in our communities.

All gifts over $2 are tax deductible.

The NeuRA Foundation values your privacy. Please take a moment to read our privacy policy.