Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia. Research has shown that having diabetes increases your risk of developing dementia. The risk of developing dementia in the general population is around 10%, for people with diabetes this risk increases to around 20%.
People most at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes include:
- people with a family history of diabetes
- people aged 55+ (risk increases with age)
- people aged 45 + and overweight and/or high blood pressure
- people over 35 from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background; or from Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background
- women who have given birth to a child over 4.5 kgs (9 lbs) or had gestational diabetes or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
While there is currently no cure, Type 2 diabetes can be well managed through lifestyle modifications and medication.
Reducing the risk of diabetes and dementia
To reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and dementia:
- Regularly check your blood sugar levels and follow treatment advice if diabetes or other problems are found.
- Engage in regular physical exercise
- Keep your cholesterol levels and blood pressure in the target range.
- Maintain a healthy body weight by eating a well-balanced and healthy diet of foods low in saturated fat (avoid fatty, salty and sugary foods) and regular exercise
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Stop smoking
- Keep mentally and socially active to reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Annual health assessments 40-49 years and 75+ years
People aged 45 to 49 years who are at risk of developing a chronic disease such as Type 2 diabetes and all people over 75 years can have comprehensive health assessments with their GP and practice nurse. These assessments are funded by Medicare and incur no out-of-pocket expenses.
Health assessments help determine your personal risk of diabetes and/or dementia. Depending on the outcome of these assessments, your GP can then put together a Chronic Disease Management plan. These plans provide up to five subsidised allied health visits every year. This can include visits to podiatrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, exercise physiologists and more. Your GP will coordinate and liaise with your allied health practitioner to ensure you get the support you need to better manage or lessen the impact of unwanted symptoms.