Anyone looking for information about Alzheimers Disease can find it Wednesday, March 20 as the Alzheimers Association hosts a free, day-long research and caregiver symposium in Pensacola. Dr. Keith Fargo, the Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach for the Alzheimers Association will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will be held at Sanders-Beach Corrine Jones Resources Center.
Dr. Fargo says he’ll tell the people attending that there is some good news and progress to report about Alzheimer's Disease. "There is a lot happening in Alzheimers Disease, in the research area. You know we sometimes feel a little bit of doom and gloom because we know that Alzheimer's is a very difficult disease, uniquely troubling, uniquely burdensome, and there haven't been a lot of breakthroughs that we've seen in terms of medication, for over a decade. But in terms of where we are in the research, there are a number of potential medications in phase three clinical trials right now which actually look quite promising. (These) would be completely different kinds of medications, actually. Medications that might actually slow or stop the disease, rather than just helping with symptoms for a period of time, which is what's available today. So we're really on the cusp of some life-changing kinds of breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research."
In addition to talking about research and medications, Dr. Fargo says he will bring up ways people can reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease, including a campaign called "10 Ways to Love Your Brain". He says these are ten modifiable risk factors that are supported by their scientific research and evidence.
"It includes things like stopping smoking, controlling blood pressure, that's a really big one," he said. "But (The list) also includes things like keeping your mind active. That could be crossword puzzles, it could be Sudoku, it could be reading books, it could be taking a class at the local community college. The important thing to do is to continue challenging yourself from a mental perspective with your thinking and memory."
The event will focus not only on people with Alzheimers Disease, but all the people affected by the condition which includes family members and especially caregivers. "There are about six million people in the U.S. today who have Alzheimers Disease dementia, and there are about 16 million people who are providing unpaid care for those individuals. It tends to be family members. We know a lot of people are 'sandwich generation' caregivers so they're providing care for a parent usually, but also for minor ch8ildren living at home. This is enormously taxing in terms of a person's time and energy. So the Alzheimer’s Association does make a variety of resources available (for caregivers), and I would advise anybody who is dealing with care giving or thinks they may (soon) be dealing with care giving in the coming years to avail yourselves of those resources."
During the event, the 2019 Alzheimer's Disease facts and figures report will be unveiled, which has about 90 pages of research done by the association about the prevalence and cost of Alzheimers Disease. Quick preview, it will cost the US 290 billion dollars this year. This year, Dr. Fargo says they also looked at the question of mental screening during a Medicare patient's annual physical exam. While this is a required part of the exam, and is paid for by Medicare, only about half of seniors say they have had their mental ability screened. As for doctors, only about half say they include this screening as a part of annual examinations.
The Alzheimer's Disease Research and Caregiver Symposium is Wednesday, March 20 at the Sanders-Beach Corrine Jones Resources Center. In addition to Dr. Fargo, Dr. Rodney Guttmann from the University of West Florida, Department of Biology will be presenting information as well as others from around the state. The event is free, but to attend you must RSVP at 800-272-3900.