Researchers at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine are part of a national initiative launching a new dementia prevention program aimed at helping people reduce their risk of developing dementia.
The Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), Canada’s largest dementia research initiative, has launched Brain Health PRO (BHPro) — an innovative online program that offers older adults the opportunity to increase their knowledge of dementia, improve lifestyle risk factors and engage with researchers.
The program provides interactive digital educational modules to empower older adults to improve their physical and mental health, and modify their risk factors for dementia.
“Emerging data from all over the world indicate that, for many people, dementia can be prevented,” says Dr. Haakon Nygaard, director of the UBC Hospital Clinic for Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders, and one of five investigators across Canada to develop the program. “BHPro was designed to provide those at risk of dementia an opportunity to learn about their unique risk factors and how to modify them through changes in lifestyle.”
The bilingual program focuses on seven different areas that could help reduce risk factors for dementia: exercise, nutrition, sleep, psychological and social health, cognitive engagement, heart health, and vision and hearing. For each, the program includes 10-minute educational videos, as well as interactive activities for users to complete.
“Our goal is to use education to change behavior, with the ultimate goal of providing a solution for preventing or delaying the onset of dementia. We are very excited to see the launch of the study,” adds Dr. Nygaard, who is also the Fipke Professor in Alzheimer’s Research at UBC.
Program participants will be sent portable EEG headsets to measure their brain activity during sleep and accelerometers to track their physical activity. With the rise of dementia anticipated to reach nearly 1 million Canadians over the next 12 years, dementia prevention is becoming an increasingly urgent national health priority.
“The launch of BHPro is part of a significant research effort to find concrete means of preventing dementia, with the ultimate goal of having tremendous benefits for the aging experience,” says Dr. Howard Chertkow, scientific director of the CCNA and director of the Kimel Family Centre for Brain Health and Wellness at Baycrest Health Sciences Centre.
The study will support 350 older adults across Canada who have at least one risk factor for dementia, with the goal of seeing participants’ dementia risk reduced throughout the year-long study.
BHPro is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada (ASC), and was created through the Canadian Therapeutic Platform Trial for Multidomain Interventions to Prevent Dementia (CAN-THUMBS UP) program, which is part of the CCNA.
“Alzheimer Society of Canada is proud to support the launch of the BHPro through the CAN-THUMBS UP program,” says Dr. Saskia Sivananthan, ASC’s chief research & knowledge, translation and exchange officer.
CCNA is the national component of the CIHR dementia research strategy, bringing together over 340 researchers across Canada to collaboratively investigate the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dementia and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
To learn more about BHPro, visit canthumbsup.ca. Please note, there is limited space for research participants.
This story was originally published on the Faculty of Medicine website.