Helen Reddy was the first Australian to win a Grammy in 1973 for her iconic song I Am Woman

Singer Helen Reddy has been diagnosed with dementia. We look at the latest study in the area of alzheimer's.

Did you know? Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia

Helen Reddy diagnosed with dementia
Iconic singer Helen Reddy, 73, is an integral part of our creative history. Her 1972 smash hit song I am Woman became an anthem for a generation of women.

"I am really in a very, very happy place," Reddy told a radio interviewer in January. Unfortunately, since then news reports say the Australian singer has been diagnosed with dementia and is now living in Los Angeles nursing facility. 

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The hit song I Am Woman has made Helen Reddy world famous 

Helen Reddy was the first Australian to win a Grammy award, has a tulip named after her in Holland, has starred on in London’s West End and on Broadway. Although she retired from live performance in 2001 to begin a practice as a clinical hypnotherapist and motivational speaker, she has been delighting fans with her singing again over the past few years.  

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Helen Reddy emerged from retirement and returned to the stage in 2012

Did you know? Alzheimer's disease damages the brain, resulting in impaired memory, thinking and behaviour. The biggest risk factor for having Alzheimer’s disease is increasing age, with 1 in 4 people over 85 having dementia 

News flash: depression linked to alzheimer's
Could feeling seriously depressed be a sign for health experts to help prevent, or slow cognitive decline?

New research has found there is a strong link between symptoms of depression and cognitive decline. Researchers at Edith Cowan University examined 460 WA adults and found that people over 65 years old who exhibited specific signs of depression were more likely to suffer from memory problems according to Dr Hamid Sohrabi from ECU’s Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Research and Care.

Identifying the symptoms
“We found that the signs of depression begin well before the symptoms of dementia begin manifesting,” he says. “Our findings confirm there is a core group of symptoms that may enable us to differentiate between people at risk of developing dementia and normally ageing individuals.”

“This means we can develop a test that will allow us to differentiate between people at risk of developing dementia and normally ageing individuals.”

The good news
Dr Sohrabi adds that therapies developed to treat depression could be useful in preventing, or slowing the cognitive decline in elderly people.

“About half of all incidences of Alzheimer’s disease are associated with genetic risk factors. This research will help us to screen the other half who do not possess these genetic risk factors for dementia including Alzheimer’s disease,” he adds.

How we can potentially benefit
“If we can identify the subset of older adults where depression is a primary factor in cognitive decline they may benefit greatly from therapeutic interventions” Dr Sohrabi says.

“This could take the form of antidepressant drugs as well as encouraging lifestyle changes that help combat depression such as exercise, getting enough sleep and social interaction.”

News flash!: Dementia Awareness Month from 1-30 September 2015

Dementia Awareness Month kicks off with a free public lecture: Alzheimer’s Australia’s signature Dementia Symposium will feature a visit by international guest speaker Ms. Gill Ayling (UK). Gill currently works in the UK Department of Health and is Head of Global Action Against Dementia. Last year, Gill accompanied the World Dementia Envoy, Dr Dennis Gillings to Australia.

Gill will be visiting Sydney on Tuesday 1 September 2015, as part of a national tour during Dementia Awareness Month. Her talk is titled: Global Action Against Dementia - Building a sustainable future. 

The lecture will:

  • Discuss why social action is the way to reduce stigma and change community attitudes about dementia;
  • Present dementia-friendly case studies from the UK to highlight the key elements that make dementia-friendly communities possible;
  • Examine the critical role of partnerships in creating dementia-friendly communities including through the leadership of people with dementia and Local Dementia Action Committees; and, 
  • Identify the outcomes that are being achieved by dementia-friendly communities and how they can be measured.

For more information about alzheimer’s and about Dementia Awareness Month (wih events Australia wide) visit Alzheimer's Australia or call the national dementia helpline tel: 1800 100 500

Have you had any personal experiences with dementia touching your life? Join the conversation below…