Former science teacher Bob Gardiner has a new lease on life after his involvement with an ANU study into lifestyle changes and the prevention of Alzheimer's disease in people with early signs of cognitive decline.
Before the study Mr Gardiner said he was worried about losing his marbles.
But six months on he is as sharp as ever. Mr Gardiner has lost seven kilograms, got back into exercise and published a children's book during his involvement in the study.
"The best bit about it is adding that little bit of focus," Mr Gardiner said.
"If you are right off track it's a good way to get on track, if you're already in that line, it's a good way to sharpen it."
PhD candidate Mitchell McMaster designed a program focused on the impact of the Mediterranean diet, physical activity and the effectiveness of assistance from allied health professionals such as dietitians and exercise physiologists.
The study was conducted over six months, involved 119 participants aged 65, and has been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
One group of participants made lifestyle changes such as seeing dietitians or exercise physiologists and completing brain-training tasks.
The control group made similar lifestyle changes without the assistance of professionals.
The study found that those who had additional guidance were at significantly lower risk of Alzheimer's disease. They also noticed improvement in cognitive abilities compared to the control group.
"No matter what your situation is, you can improve your lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of dementia," Mr McMaster said.
"[The] best way to do that is to get some expert assistance, dietitians, exercise physiologists, but it's also things you can do in your own home."
Mr McMaster emphasised making radical changes is not necessary to halt the development of dementia.
He said taking up new hobbies, doing at least two-and-a-half hours of exercise a week and making small changes to diet could mean a world of difference.
"If you change a lot of your lifestyle, you make big changes but its probably not sustainable - its more beneficial to make smaller changes you can keep up long-term," he said
"If you've kept that up and it's going OK, then in the future you may initiate more changes."