A major research project involving the entire state of Tasmania is set to become the biggest of its kind in the world .
The University of Tasmania will be seeking to recruit 10,000 participants aged 50 years and over in a statewide crackdown on dementia after launching the Island Study Linking Aging and Neurogenerative Disease Project on Monday.
UTAS' Wicking Dementia Centre director Professor James Vickers said the ISLAND Project would take at least 10 years, and would involve a public health and educational campaign targeting the main risk factors for dementia.
"Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, and Tasmania has the oldest population in the country which is ageing faster than the national average," he said.
"Tasmania also has high rates of modifiable risk factors of dementia; however it has been estimated that a third of dementia cases may be prevented if the population can attend to these risk factors."
Professor Vickers said the study would be starting in the North-West, expanding to include the rest of Tasmania, and then spreading nation-wide.
There's no drugs for dementia, so we need to look at other preventable factors.Professor James Vickers
"The North-West is an ideal place to start," he said.
"Not only is the average age a bit older than Tasmania, which is older than the rest of Australia, you've also got communities who are so proud and community minded.
"We're going to work with towns in the North-West about trying to get them involved again as communities to fight those factors."
Among these preventable factors are smoking, hypertension and mid-life obesity Professor Vickers says.
"Ultimately we're going to have a whole bunch of personal things people can do, through to group activities and community based activities," he said.
"We're going to need thousands of participants from the North, but we'll start with at least 600.
"There's no drugs for dementia, so we need to look at other preventable factors."
Professor Vickers said the project had received $1.2 million from the Turnbull government's Medical Research Future Fund about a year ago.
"It's a testing ground at the moment... realistically we'll be needing about $10 million to do the 10 years."
He said the project itself included the a new registry to track dementia.