Hospital encouraging people  to look after their brain health

Hospital encouraging people to look after their brain health

By Máire Ní Dhuinneacha.

DID you know that 40 per cent of all cases of dementia are potentially preventable with the right interventions to support brain health?

As we approach Brain Health Week, the team at the Brain Health Clinic at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) is encouraging people of all ages to look after their brain health.

Brain Clinic TUH 1

Professor Sean Kennelly Consultant Geriatrician and Joshi Doohky Advanced Nurse Practitioner who are part of the Age Related Team at TUH

The Brain Health Clinic is part of the Memory Clinic at TUH, which is one of the most developed memory services in the country.

The Memory Clinic provides a multidisciplinary approach that aims to diagnose dementia as early as possible, with the service receiving around 300 new referrals per year.

The Brain Health Clinic supports people with mild symptoms of memory loss and puts a personal prevention plan in place for between 150 and 200 people who access the service annually.

The personal plan looks at factors such as diet, exercise, sleep and stress.

Speaking with The Echo, Professor Sean Kennelly said there is around 2,500 people living in Tallaght with dementia.

“Up to 40 per cent of all cases of dementia are potentially preventable with the right interventions to help brain health”, Prof Kennelly said.

“We need to talk about a lifelong approach to preventing dementia.”

While there are genetic risk factors people are born with, Prof Kennelly highlighted other factors that can contribute to an increased risk of dementia.

While education is an important factor in early life, in mid-life (45 to 65) obesity, alcohol, inactivity, high blood pressure and hearing loss can all significantly impact on a person’s risk of developing dementia in later life.

Risk factors for those over 65 can include smoking, depression, physical activity, diabetes and social isolation.

Social circumstances can also play a role, with research showing that dementia can be more prevalent in socially deprived areas, where access to education, occupational opportunities and sport and exercise may be more challenging.

“There is very robust evidence to support this, especially the importance of exercise, particularly aerobic exercise”, Prof Kennelly said.

“We all need to be aware of our physical activity levels, we need 150 minutes of active exercise per week”, Prof Kennelly said.

“The brain is like any other muscle, the more it works, the more resilient it is.

“The key message here is that 40 per cent of dementia cases are potentially preventable, I don’t think people know that.

“From our mid-forties into our mid-fifties we should all reflect on our own health and what the next 50 years are going to look like.”

From March to May of this year, the Dementia Research Network will be hosting free weekly webinars for the public on Brain Health.

The team at TUH are kicking off the series, with Prof Sean Kennelly, Dr Tim Dukelow, Cathy McHale and Joshi Dookhy from the Memory Clinic discussing brain health and ‘what the evidence tells us’.

This webinar is scheduled for Monday, March 15, from 11am to midday.

For further details or to book, visit Brain Health Public Outreach Online Webinar Series on Eventbrite.

Anyone who has questions or concerns around their brain health or memory is encouraged to contact their GP, who can make referrals to the clinic at Tallaght University Hospital.

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