A step forward for Alzheimer’s … the health crisis of our time.

Diane and I discuss Alzheimer’s disease often since her mother and two maternal aunts suffered from the problem. A few weeks ago, I appeared on GoLocalLive just after Dr. Steven Salloway, the Martin M. Zucker Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and Professor of Neurology at Brown and Chief of Neurology and Director of the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital.  We had a chance to chat before our appearances. Though I knew of Dr. Salloway and his research and clinical activities (currently supported by over $3.4 million in grants), I had never met him.

It was a distinct pleasure. With all his accomplishments and recognition in the field of dementia research and treatment, he was unassuming and unpretentious. He acknowledged others: “We have the best volunteers …  the most motivated are those who have had Alzheimer’s in their family. They know what it is to care for a parent or sibling.”

He was a thoughtful and caring listener as I told him of Diane’s family history. He  had a recommendation … that she enroll in the Butler Hospital Alzheimer Prevention Registry whose goal is to get 2,020 participants by 2020. Believing that Alzheimer’s disease is the health crisis of our time, he urged people to consider participating in the program. I listened to his interview with Kate Nagle.

“So many are affected, and that number will grow as the population ages. Aging is the biggest risk factor for conditions like Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Salloway. “The cost of care is greater than that for heart disease and for cancer.”  I was unaware. Dr. Salloway encouraged people to sign online or by phone for the 2020 prevention registry.  Prevention is the key.

“We’re developing treatments to remove the proteins (brain deposits in Alzheimer’s) to  hopefully slow down the memory loss. I think we might  have the biggest impact while memory is still OK.” With pride, he applauded  the research being done in our State and at  Brown University … a nation-leading team.

“The investments  made at Brown University, including the $100 million gift for its Brain Science Institute from Robert and Nancy Carney … will quicken the pace of scientific discovery for diseases such as ALS and Alzheimer’s.”

He continued, “The earlier we go, the more effective we’re going to be at either preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s. We need volunteers. We need you folks out there to find out more. It’s a very exciting time, and I think we’re in the right place to really make progress. We have developed better tests, such as  a cheek swab, to see if a person is carrying one or two of the most common risk genes for Alzheimer’s.” Dr. Salloway’s enthusiasm was infectious.

How very exciting it is to see cutting edge research in our own back yard; a perfect example of what many of us involved in health care for the citizens of  our state imagine … the impact possible with  a cooperative effort.

Thank you, Dr. Steve. We applaud you and your staff. 2020 for 2020 it will be. Let’s help.

© 2019

*** Published in yesterday’s GoLocalProv