The Executive Office on Aging (EOA), in collaboration with Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience, is presenting the Hawaii Pathways to Excellence in Dementia Care and Research symposium this Friday, Feb. 8, from 3 to 5 p.m., at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Coral Ballroom. Other sponsors include Novartis, Plaza Assisted Living, BiologicTx, Hawaii Advanced Imaging Institute, and InVision Imaging.

The seminar will feature remarks by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who will deliver the Charge to Participants address, and keynote speaker Marsel Mesulam, MD. As a professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Mesulam founded and led the Behavioral Neurology Unit of Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. He is currently the Ruth Dunbar Davee Professor of Neuroscience and the director of the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Dr. Mesulam is also an Illinois governor’s appointee to the Illinois Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Committee.

Also presenting will be Kore Liow, MD, director of Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience; Kamal Masaki, MD, department chair and professor at John A. Burns School of Medicine Department of Geriatric Medicine; Colette Browne, DrPH, MSW, professor and chair of the Gerontology Concentration at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at University of Hawaii; and Wesley Lum, PhD, MPH, director of EOA.

The symposium will explore the effort and process in Hawaii to host an Alzheimer’s disease center, examine the medical and social science research on dementia in Hawaii, and facilitate collaboration with all sectors to address the disease.

“Alzheimer’s disease presents one of the greatest health care challenges of the 21st century,” said Dr. Masel Mesulam. “Addressing this disease requires an integrated effort based on diagnostic accuracy, clinical care, basic research, education and psychosocial interventions. Hawaii has a world-class reputation in aging research and also a special population that deserves a comprehensive approach to Alzheimer’s disease. These ingredients will energize collaborative initiatives to establish a multidisciplinary Alzheimer’s disease center in Hawaii.”

Alzheimer’s disease, now considered an epidemic and public health crisis, accounts for the majority of cases of dementia, of which there are other causes and diagnoses, like vascular dementia, which is more prevalent in Hawaii. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease; however, world statistics show that 50-80 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia goes undiagnosed, so the actual figure is likely higher. In Hawaii, the estimate is 31,000, but this only takes into account those over age 65. About 4 percent of dementia cases occur before age 65.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death, and cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. It costs the nation $183 billion annually. While death rates have dropped for other major diseases like HIV, stroke and heart disease, deaths from Alzheimer’s have risen 66 percent. Every 69 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.”

One half of those ages 85 and over will get Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Because the average lifespan of Hawaii residents is longer than other states, efforts are being made to build public awareness and increase education to reduce the stigma of dementia and help improve the quality of life for those afflicted and their caregivers.

For more information, contact Jody Mishan, Coordinator, State Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, at Jody.Mishan@doh.hawaii.gov

 

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