If you’re over 55 and want to know your risk of developing dementia within the next five years, you can now find out in a matter of minutes.
Rigorous research conducted in Canada led to the development of an online calculator consisting of two dozen questions. In just five minutes you’ll know your chances of a dementia diagnosis, along with suggestions on how to lower your risk factors.
Best of all, the test is surprisingly accurate—83 percent accuracy rate— and it won’t cost you a penny.
The online calculator is called The Dementia Population Risk Tool (DemPoRT).
Researchers say it can provide you with information that’s now more important than ever before. You see, researchers believe that an estimated one in three people with dementia could have delayed or even prevented their condition if they’d only tackled detrimental lifestyle factors in the years before their diagnosis.
I couldn’t agree more. That’s one of the reasons we publish this newsletter, to give people the information they need to make healthier lifestyle choices. Now, about DemPoRT…
What is DemPoRT?
Researchers from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute sought to design a population-level dementia algorithm that would not only be useful to health services for planning purposes but would also be suitable for older individuals living in the community to assess their personal risk of dementia.
While other calculators already exist, they’re designed for use in a clinical setting and include results from genetic testing, brain scans and cognitive tests. None were suitable for the purposes the researchers had in mind.
So, they developed an algorithm for dementia incidence using health survey data and called it DemPoRT. Factors taken into account in DemPoRT include:
- Height and weight
- Smoking status and lifetime exposure
- Alcohol consumption
- Physical activity – none, light, moderate or vigorous
- Stress level
- Diet – amount of fruit and vegetables, fruit juice and potatoes eaten weekly
- Sense of belonging
- Immigration status
- Socioeconomic status of an individual’s neighborhood
- Social support
- Activities where assistance is needed
- Marital status
- Number of languages spoken
- Health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, mood disorders and epilepsy
The final model included 29 variables. When researchers put it to the test, the results were interesting, to say the least.
Risk Assessed From Your Armchair
Researchers gathered information using survey data from 75,460 cognitively healthy residents aged 55 or older living in Ontario. During an eleven year follow up, 8,448 people were diagnosed with dementia.
The team found the model was strong, able to tell who would go on to develop dementia with 83 percent accuracy.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Stacey Fisher, was delighted with the result, saying, “What sets this dementia risk calculator apart is that you don’t need to visit a doctor for any tests. People already have all the information they need to complete the calculator in the comfort of their home.”
Senior study author Dr. Peter Tanuseputro agreed, adding, “This tool will give people who fill it out clues to what they can do to reduce their personal risk of dementia.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has also made it clear that sociodemographic variables like ethnicity and neighborhood play a major role in our health.
“It was important to include those variables in the tool so policy makers can understand how different populations are impacted by dementia, and help ensure that any prevention strategies are equitable.”
To find out your own risk of developing dementia using the DemPoRT online risk evaluation tool, visit https://www.projectbiglife.ca/dementia