The LEISURE study | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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The LEISURE study

A ground-breaking research program that supports you to reduce your dementia risk through lifestyle changes.

Research shows that 30-50% of the risk for developing dementia is attributed to our lifestyle choices. This means that, by adopting healthy habits, you have the power to influence the healthy ageing of your brain, and therefore the quality of your later life. You can reduce your risk by improving your physical activity, diet, weight, blood pressure, mood, stress levels and social connections.

Older aged people smiling

About this research

The Thompson Institute's ground-breaking LEISURE study supports participants to adopt lifestyle strategies shown to reduce dementia risk. Participants are helping us answer important questions about the causes of cognitive decline in ageing and dementia, and how it can be prevented.

Our team is assessing participants’ current dementia risk profile and offering lifestyle programs aimed at reducing this risk. The research will determine if improvements in memory, thinking and mood can be brought about by these lifestyle interventions, and identify brain changes associated with improvement.

We also aim to address the lack of known early indicators of cognitive change, which is important for identifying people at risk of cognitive decline and intervening early.

This is the first research program to investigate the mechanisms underlying healthy brain ageing through integrating cutting-edge neuroimaging and biomarker analysis.​

The lifestyle program

After the baseline assessments, participants are randomly assigned to either a lifestyle intervention program or a dementia risk information group.

The lifestyle intervention group participate in a 12-week program in which they are guided by an expert multi-disciplinary team to adopt realistic healthy lifestyle changes.

The dementia risk information group receive a comprehensive report detailing their individual dementia risk profile together with lifestyle factors to work on to reduce their risk. At the end of the 12-week information period, participants will also receive access to the lifestyle intervention program content material to try.

Both groups focus on healthy lifestyle changes covering four key areas:

What the research involves

The following assessments help our important research and allow us to build dementia risk reports for participants.

Self-report questionnaires

To be completed before you attend the clinic, the questionnaires are about your wellbeing, mood, day-to-day functioning and sleep quality. A family member or partner will be offered the opportunity to complete similar questionnaires. They take 45-60 mins to complete.

Mood assessment

In the mood assessment you’re asked questions about your mood and mental health history. If you feel uncomfortable answering questions about this, experienced psychologists at the clinic can offer support and assistance. This assessment will take one hour.

Cognitive assessment

This examines cognitive functions, including concentration, memory and problem-solving. You will be asked about any concerns you may have about your cognition, and you will complete a range of tasks including answering questions and ‘paper and pencil’ style tasks. This assessment will take one hour.

Medical assessment

You will be asked questions about your medical history and mental health and take biomedical measurements (eg height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, waist circumference). This assessment will take one hour.

Brain imaging scan

You will have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to identify microscopic changes in the brain that can signal the emergence of dementia long before more obvious changes, such as memory loss. It is non-invasive and safe and requires you to lie still in the scanner for approximately 45 minutes.

EEG (Electroencephalogram)

This is a non-invasive way to measure your brain activity. You will be asked to wear a headcap containing sensors that record the electrical activity generated by your brain. This assessment will take approximately 30 minutes and will involve doing short computerized-attention tasks while having your brain activity recorded.

Blood test

You will be asked to have a blood sample collected at a QML Pathology center. This sample will be used to measure the effect of the program on important biomarkers of healthy ageing. It will require you to fast for 8-10hrs prior to having your blood taken.

Activity monitoring

We’ll ask you to wear a wrist activity monitor (like a regular wristwatch) and fill out a sleep diary for seven days to collect information about your daytime activity levels, sleep and wake times, sleep duration and sleep quality.

Our valued participants

We've been working with participants who:

Please note: Expressions of interest to participate in this study has now closed.

About the Thompson Institute

UniSC's Thompson Institute is a world-class hub for research, teaching and clinical services for Australia's most pressing mental health issues.

This program is proudly supported by the Wilson Foundation