Optimizing the aging Brain? Situating Ethical Aspects of Dementia Prevention (BEAD)
Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine
Funding: ERA-NET Network of European Funding for Neuroscience Research
Project Period: 2021 – 2024
Carried out by:
- Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz
- Dr. Shingo Segawa
- Niklas Petersen, M.A.
- Florian Grundmüller, M.A.
- Jana Wegehöft, B.A.
This project will be conducted in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Annette Leibing (Université de Montréal, Faculté des sciences infirmières) and Dr.Alessandro Blasimme (ETH Zürich, Departement Gesundheitswissenschaften und Technologie).
Dementia (the most common form is Alzheimer’s disease) has for a long time been conceived of as an unpreventable process of mental deterioration. Since the Lancet Report in 2020, however, researchers claim that 40% dementia cases could be prevented if at least twelve risk factors are managed. These risk factors include some that have not been traditionally linked to Alzheimer’s, such as lower education, diabetes, hypertension, social isolation, and hearing loss, and which require management over the life course, making prevention a lifelong endeavour. Early detection through biomarkers and digital tracking technologies have also become a central feature of what we call ‘the new dementia’. This raises a number of ethical questions, such as: should individuals be considered personally responsible for their own dementia prevention? Should we accept extensive monitoring of our cognitive functions through digital technologies? What does dementia prevention entail for our healthcare systems and cultures of care? And, do national, local or international contexts play a role in how prevention is articulated and lived?
Our results aim to make people more aware that preventing dementia is a highly complex issue that needs to be seen in context through an extensive knowledge transfer on multiple levels.