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Why Scientific Literacy and Learning Enhance Brain Function and Neural Health

Often in dis­cussing health related find­ings with non-scientists, I’ve found that sci­en­tific lit­er­acy in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion tends to be inad­e­quate for eval­u­at­ing sci­en­tific claims. A sur­pris­ing num­ber of peo­ple are reluc­tant to study sci­ence despite the poten­tial to ben­e­fit from the vast amount of use­ful knowl­edge being accu­mu­lated by sci­en­tists. Neil DeGrasse Tyson dis­cussed a sim­i­lar issue with the New York Daily News sev­eral years ago (A Cry to Pass the Sci­ence Test, 2006). In a time when sci­en­tific infor­ma­tion is con­stantly reshap­ing our under­stand­ing Read the rest of this entry »

Alzheimer’s Disease: is our Healthcare System Ready?

In the midst of much health­care reform talk, not Alzheimer's Disease reportenough atten­tion seems focused on ensur­ing health­care sys­tems’ pre­pared­ness to deal with cog­ni­tive health issues –with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease as the most dra­matic exam­ple– which are pre­dicted to grow given aging pop­u­la­tion trends.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, and the USA Today com­ments on a new report that makes stark pre­dic­tions:
Global Alzheimer’s cases expected to rise sharply (USA Today)

- “The 2009 World Alzheimer’s Report, released today, esti­mates 35 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide are liv­ing with Alzheimer’s and other forms of demen­tia. The fig­ure is a 10% increase over 2005 numbers.”

- “The num­ber of peo­ple affected by Alzheimer’s is grow­ing at a rapid rate, and the increas­ing per­sonal costs will have sig­nif­i­cant impact on the world’s economies and health care sys­tems,” said Harry Johns, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion. “We must make the fight against Alzheimer’s a pri­or­ity here in the United States and world­wide,” he said.

- “The report by London-based non­profit Alzheimer’s Dis­ease Inter­na­tional (ADI), an inter­na­tional fed­er­a­tion of 71 national Alzheimer orga­ni­za­tions (includ­ing the Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion), indi­cates that the num­ber of peo­ple with demen­tia is expected to grow sharply to 65.7 mil­lion in 2030 and 115.4 mil­lion in 2050.”

Link to report: Here

The Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion is orga­niz­ing mul­ti­ple Mem­ory Walks to raise aware­ness and funds. You can learn more and join Here. (Per­haps a good oppor­tu­nity to orga­nize a “walk­ing book group” as Arthur Kramer sug­gested in the Sharp­Brains Guide?)

The City of San Fran­cisco, led by its Depart­ment of Aging and Adult Ser­vices (DAAS), con­vened since san francisco2008 an Alzheimer’s/ Demen­tia Expert Panel to iden­tify gaps and issue rec­om­men­da­tions to address the grow­ing cri­sis in demen­tia care at the city level, and is about to release a pio­neer­ing plan that may well influ­ence pub­lic health ini­tia­tives in other cities and states. An interim doc­u­ment can be found here: 2020 Foresight-Strategy For Excel­lence in Demen­tia Care (pdf)

One of the major areas of focus for that strat­egy was Edu­ca­tion & Pre­ven­tion, and below we can share a sum­mary of the pre­lim­i­nary find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions. We will high­light the final report when ready.

ALZHEIMER’S/DEMENTIA EXPERT PANEL

EDUCATION AND PREVENTION SUBCOMMITTEE

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The subcommittee’s charge was to con­sider how best to edu­cate the San Fran­cisco com­mu­nity about Alzheimer’s and related demen­tias to change atti­tudes, beliefs, behav­iors, stan­dards of prac­tice, and out­comes asso­ci­ated with the disease.

Spe­cific top­ics addressed include:
· Pro­tec­tive fac­tors relat­ing to demen­tia, includ­ing risk fac­tors and brain health
· Early iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of demen­tia
· Early access to ser­vices
· Com­mu­nity edu­ca­tion
· Edu­ca­tion of pro­fes­sion­als and non­pro­fes­sion­als, includ­ing physi­cians, psy­chi­a­trists and psy­chol­o­gists, social work­ers, nurses, and other care­givers, both paid care­givers and infor­mal care­givers such as fam­ily and friends
· Eth­i­cal issues
· Pol­icy issues

The dis­sem­i­na­tion of accu­rate infor­ma­tion about Alzheimer’s and related demen­tias can play an impor­tant role in Read the rest of this entry »

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