Brain Health Symposium

Published on: December 1, 2016

SCC Brain Health Symposium gives hope, answers to seniors

By KEVIN BRADY

brain-sidebarThere’s new hope, and the science to back it up, that proves ours brains are like muscles; exercising not only helps but can also rebuild brains.

Every brain has a finite number of cells and once degenerative diseases set in, eating away the healthy cells, a slow, torturous decline was inevitable. That was the thinking 20 years ago. No more.

“(Prior to 1997) we were taught you were only born with so many neurons and over the course of your lifetime they would die off, and there was nothing you could do about it,” said Peggy Bargmann, R.N., at the Fourth Annual Caregiver Symposium for Brain Health, Nov. 15 at Sun City Center Community Hall. “Wrong. We now know our brains can generate new nerve cells.”

“We need balance in all areas,” said Bargmann, director of the Brain Fitness Clubs for seniors who cited research that showed those who walk for 30 minutes, three times a week suffered less memory loss than those who did not.

Jessica L. Banko, chief operating officer at the University of South Florida Health Byrd Alzheimer Institute, addresses more than 200 people who turned out for the symposium.

Jessica L. Banko, chief operating officer at the University of South Florida Health Byrd Alzheimer Institute, addresses more than 200 people who turned out for the symposium.

Alzheimer’s has been described as watching death over and over again, but today there is hope, said Jessica L. Banko.

“Not only is there hope in the rescue and restoration of those living with Alzheimer’s today but in prevention of next generation (cases),” said Banko. Banko, chief operating officer at the University of South Florida Health Byrd Alzheimer Institute, discussed new research at the symposium. “Treatments that are in advanced stages of clinical trials today are disrupting the features that give rise to Alzheimer’s. We can now see the development of Alzheimer’s in the brain of individuals 15 years before symptoms arise, so that is the window where we can intervene with these new treatments that are in the advanced stages of clinical trials.”

Banko is hoping to bring the 400-square-foot Memory Research Suite, the only one in Florida, to Sun City Center in coming months. Staffed by a doctor or nurse and twice the size of a motor home, the research clinic on wheels will make cutting-edge drug trials available to those who need it most. The traveling lab will evaluate potential volunteers — with and without symptoms of cognitive decline — for participation in promising new experimental drugs. In order to participate, volunteers must first complete a memory screening.

Screenings are being done at five locations within the South Shore area each month free of charge and offered by the South Shore Coalition for Mental Health and Aging.

More than five million people struggle with Alzheimer’s disease which, unlike cancer or heart disease, currently cannot be prevented, slowed or cured, according to the Byrd Institute.

The symposium also included a brain training update from Bernadette A. Fausto, a doctoral student at the University of South Florida School of Aging Studies; a “Music on the Brain” documentary discussed by Amanda Zubillaga, Board Certified Music Therapist with Sun Towers Retirement Community; and a legacy planning talk by Richard Rios of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

Peggy Bargmann, R.N., said there are simple, easy exercises we can all do to maintain and improve brain health. Bargmann is director of the Brain Fitness Clubs for seniors. For information on setting up a club call 407-927-4380 or email BrainFitnessClub@gmail.com. KEVIN BRADY PHOTOS

Peggy Bargmann, R.N., said there are simple, easy exercises we can all do to maintain and improve brain health. Bargmann is director of the Brain Fitness Clubs for seniors. For information on setting up a club call 407-927-4380 or email BrainFitnessClub@gmail.com.
KEVIN BRADY PHOTOS

“Rather than educate caregivers on the decline of their loved ones, this year the thought was to help the caregivers maintain their brain function while they are being tasked to care for their loved one,” said Debbie Caneen, director of admissions at Sun Towers Retirement Community, which sponsored the symposium. “I see too many cases where a caregiver and their loved one want to come to Sun Towers and before they are even here, the caregiver passes away. Eighty percent of caregivers pass away before the person they are caring for because they are so stressed out. It’s horrible.”

For those interested in receiving a free memory screening, call the Coalition at 813-419-4902 to schedule an appointment.

 

Comments