Alzheimer’s Discovery Conference 2017 – A Sneak Peek

Editor’s note: Discovery 2017 is a month away. Register today

By UW Memory Brain and Wellness Center

It’s time to get excited for the 32nd Alzheimer’s Association Discovery Conference in Seattle on April 7th! Here’s a preview to help you plan the day.

The annual Alzheimer’s Association, Washington State Chapter Discovery Conference offers a day packed with evidence-based information and education about dementia. As always, the UW Medicine’s Memory and Brain Wellness Center team is highly involved, from helping to plan the event to giving presentations. This year, the topics include clinical research progress, dementia-friendly community engagement, non-Alzheimer’s disease dementias, proactive approaches to aging, and much more.

“I’m always surprised at the consistently innovative and creative information that we are able to provide professionals in the field of dementia care, as well as family caregivers who are increasingly attending the conference from across country,” says Joanne Maher, Director of Programs and Services for the Alzheimer’s Association, Washington State Chapter.

Creating a buzz this year is the Discovery Conference keynote speaker, Steven Sabat, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Georgetown University (left), whose work seeks to dispel myths about people living with dementia. His session asks, ‘Can people with Alzheimer’s Disease Make New Memories? The night before, Sabat will deliver a public talk at Town Hall Seattle, ‘Understanding People with Alzheimer’s Disease: A Bio-Psycho-Social Approach.’ These presentations will explore different biomedical and philosophical perspectives that either hinder or encourage the recognition of selfhood in people with dementia and celebration of creative or social abilities.

One particularly interactive conference session brings Sabat’s message into real social action: ‘Connecting and Empowering Persons with Dementia and Their Care Partners: How to Start Dementia-Friendly Programs in Your Community.’ A panel of presenters, including Marigrace Becker, Program Manager of Community Education and Impact at the UW MBWC, will give advice, and years’ worth of wisdom, on starting a dementia-inclusive program. Inspiration abounds in Seattle. Families can find art classes, art museum tours, Alzheimer’s cafes, improv workshps, walking groups such as Out & About Walks and Garden Discovery Walks, and more, all listed on the Momentia Calendar.

A Garden Discovery Walk at Bradner Gardens Park

The UW MBWC team and colleagues will also present on research progress and clinical care.

If you’re asking, ‘If It’s Not Alzheimer’s, What Is It?,’ Kimiko Domoto-Reilly, neurologist and Assistant Professor in the UW Medicine Dept. of Neurology, has the answer. She will give a refresher on the neurodegenerative conditions that are not caused by Alzheimer’s disease. These diseases, such as frontotemporal lobe degeneration (FTD), may have different symptoms and require unique forms of treatment and caregiver support.

Kristoffer Rhoads, neuropsychologist and Associate Professor in the UW Medicine Dept. of Neurology will give an overview of research progress in many areas, including studies of the benefits of mindfulness meditation for people with memory loss and their care partners, and the precision medicine research at UW Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Emily Trittschuh, clinical neuropsychologist and Assistant Professor in UW Medicine Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, will share her knowledge about the intersection between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and memory loss and dementia in older adults. She will draw on her experience running memory skills groups for older veterans with PTSD, which aim to encourage a proactive, self-management approach to aging and changes in memory or cognition.

Also on the theme of promoting brain health, Ellen McGough, Assistant Professor in UW Medicine Dept. of Rehabilitation Medicine, will focus on the benefits of exercise for people with dementia, recognizing the barriers to maintaining a daily physical activity routine. McGough has developed innovative, community-based exercise interventions aimed at reducing functional decline in this population.

Lastly, thank you to Elisabeth Lindley, registered nurse practitioner at the UW MBWC clinic, who worked on the 2017 Planning Council to provide input on the speakers and topics for this year’s Discovery Conference!

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