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What’s the Latest News in Dementia Research?

Jason Richardson, MS, Ph.D., DABT

Maplewood Senior Living, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, and Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), will be hosting a dementia research and caregiving symposium on September 29th from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Holiday Inn, 6001 Rockside Road, Independence, Ohio. The event is specifically designed for both family members and caregivers and will feature renowned experts who will discuss the latest trends in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. In addition, the symposium will focus on managing caregiving responsibilities.

Jason Richardson, Ph.D., Director of Neurodegenerative Disease and Aging Research Focus Area, Acting Associate Dean for Research College of Pharmacy and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at NEOMED will be giving a keynote titled, “Industry Research and New Findings.”

I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Richardson recently to get a sneak peek into his talk.

How do you, NEOMED and Maplewood work together?

We work with Maplewood on potential research studies and other partnerships such as educational and community outreach programs like the Symposium. I’m excited about giving a keynote address at that event.

What will your keynote be about?

The talk with cover results and insights from the latest dementia research. I’ll discuss the early identification of the diseases that cause dementia. In many cases, the disease process occurs 30-40 years before clinical symptoms. So I’ll talk about how to identify those at risk and how to use that information for better treatment modalities, superior results and increased quality of life.

If there is currently no cure, and no real effective treatments for dementia, why do people request genetic testing? What are the benefits of knowing?

I actually have two ApoE4 alleles, placing me at 4 times greater risk of getting dementia than someone without that profile. This is useful information to me because there are things that can be done on multiple fronts to help. Dementia is not one single disease, it’s a multi-dimensional disease – a spectrum disorder. Not every individual is going to have the same level of impairment or decline. I’m enthusiastic about novel approaches to care and treatment.

If one is aware, they can modify their diet which can have potential benefits. Also, evidence has shown that exercise and staying active can have favorable advantages. I am a strong advocate for lifestyle changes early in life to mitigate the risk factors and lesson issues later. A healthy lifestyle equals healthy aging. If we can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by 10 years, we would decrease the disease by at least 50%. 

What is the most exciting and innovative thing going on in dementia research today?

That’s a tough one because there are so many people around the world with different levels of expertise and different perspectives looking at different components. Personalized or precision medicine is a big area and where the big push is. In the short term, researchers are looking to segment similar populations and study them as cohorts with targeted treatments. Also, new imaging technologies and biomarkers are very exciting and promising.

What do you think about the use of palliative and end-of-life care for people with dementia?

I think it’s exceptionally important. I’m learning more about this now and it’s a significant area that has not received the focus that it should.

Any final thoughts? 

  • Right now, there is no cure. However, some of the best and brightest minds around the world are working collaboratively to solve this issue. These professionals are the hardest working, most passionate group of individuals I’ve ever worked with and have no doubt breakthroughs are on the way.
  • Also, we really need the public’s continued support. Their generosity, fundraising efforts and advocacy is critical to the success. We appreciate their willingness to put themselves and their stories out there in the face of this debilitating disease; it does not go unnoticed. These are some of the most intelligent and impassioned individuals. They know that their efforts will not going to help them, but it will aid the next generation. That’s the definition of courage.

Join us at the Symposium. You can register for the event here, or download the event flyer here.

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