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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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