New program tackles boozy boomers to reduce risk of dementia

Nov 13, 2021
You may need to rethink your drinks this Christmas. Source: Getty

As the silly season approaches, a hangover isn’t the only thing you need to worry about after a few holiday drinks. Excessive drinking has recently been shown to increase the risk of dementia by three times the normal amount in older Aussies. 

Rethink My Drink is an online alcohol-reduction study, led by researchers at UNSW, that has recently launched a new program that aims to help boozy boomers reduce their risk of dementia by monitoring alcohol consumption.

These programs are especially important around the festive season because binge drinking is highly likely, according to Scientia Fellow and lead investigator of the Rethink My Drink study, Dr Louise Mewton. 

“Before the festive season begins is the perfect time to arm yourself with the tools you need to start a healthy relationship with alcohol,” she said in an interview with Seven News.

But, it’s not just alcohol that has a rather negative impact on older Aussies and their risk of dementia. A March 2021 study showed that eating just one rasher of bacon can lead to a 44 per cent increased risk of dementia

Even very low levels of alcohol consumption have shown small, but significant transformations in the brain function of older adults; with dementia set to double by 2058, this tragic disease looks set to continue wreaking havoc on the lives of thousands of Australians. 

But there is still hope with early intervention. Recognising the problem in older Australians and reducing the stigma surrounding excessive drinking is just the beginning of how the Rethink My Drink program plans to demonstrate that something can be done about reducing the risk. 

“People who consume alcohol regularly have a genuine chance of preventing dementia if proper action is taken,” Mewton said.

Every participant in the Rethink My Drink research will be assessed over a year-long period by being asked to complete assessments in alcohol use, memory, and quality of life – in the hopes to reduce consumption, and eventually, reduce the occurrence of dementia in Australians. 

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