SWAMS and the Kaat Koort – Aboriginal Brain Health Study

July 26, 2021

You may be surprised to know that Dementia is not one specific disease, but is a word that is used to describe many conditions that affects brain health and how a person thinks and acts. Dementia affects a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks and often has a profound effect on the person’s life and health as well as their social and emotional wellbeing.

The South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), in partnership with the University of Melbourne, Curtin University and Derbarl Yerrigan are currently undertaking an Aboriginal Dementia Prevention study called Kaat Koort – Head and Heart.

The Kaat Koort program will specifically look at whether the risk of dementia in Aboriginal patients can be prevented using an Aboriginal Health Worker led approach focusing on diet, exercise, smoking status and mental health.

Who is at risk of dementia?

Whilst it is true that most people with dementia are older, it is very important to know that dementia can happen to anybody. People in their 40s and 50s and even sometimes much younger can also have dementia. For this study, we are looking for Aboriginal people aged between 35 and 60 years of age.

How do I know if it is dementia?

The early signs of dementia are very hard to spot and so may not be obvious straight away. If you notice that you or a loved one has any of the early symptoms listed below you may want to get it checked by your GP:

  • You can’t remember things more and more often
    • You are often experiencing confusion
    • You have noticed a personality change
    • Not wanting to be around other people or not finding things as fun
    • Finding it hard to do everyday tasks

What causes dementia?

There are many forms of dementia and each form has its own causes. The most important thing is to see your medical team to get a review that can lead to an early medical diagnosis. This gives you the opportunity to get support for yourself and your family and to participate in the recommended treatments to delay the onset of symptoms where possible.

Am I eligible for the Kaat Koort study?

For this study, we are looking for Aboriginal people aged between 35 and 60 years of age. Once you have registered, all participants will do easy brain and physical testing as part of the beginning of the trial. This discussion will go for about 1 hour.

If you are interested in being involved in Kaat Koort, please have a yarn with Melissa or Salena on (08) 9783 5115 or email kaatkoort@swams.com.au

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