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Understanding Alzheimer's Disease and the Dementias: What We Know, What We Can Do

Evening Program

Inside Science program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, October 24, 2019 - 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2048
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
Marion & Gustave Ring Auditorium
7th St & Independence Ave SW
Metro: L'Enfant Plaza
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Please Note: This program has an updated location.

Alzheimer’s disease, and the dementias in general, are among the most-feared consequences of being lucky enough to survive into older age. Between ages 65 to 74, about 3% of the population will show signs of Alzheimer’s, rising to 30% or higher among of those 85 and older. Many others as they age will suffer from dementia from other underlying conditions, such as mini-strokes. 

In an informative evening, Barry Gordon, a nationally recognized expert on memory and memory disorders, sheds light on these debilitating conditions and provides guidance on what you need to know to take the most informed and active steps if faced with them—whether personally or in a family member or friend.

Gordon explains how the syndrome of dementia is defined, and some of the many specific diseases that may cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s, the vascular dementias, Lewy body disease, and the frontotemporal dementias. He discusses some of the causes of dementia that are treatable, and some conditions that can mimic it but do not necessarily cause permanent harm. He explains the role your family history plays in developing Alzheimer’s disease and some of the dementias, and how you can estimate your risk of developing one of these conditions.

What current research tells us about what you yourself can do to try to prevent or delay dementia is also addressed. Will doing crossword puzzles or online memory games help? Physical exercise? What about treating problems such as prediabetes, diabetes, sleep apnea, and hypertension? What are the chances of benefitting from those steps, and what are their potential drawbacks?

Finally, Gordon addresses when you should be concerned that someone may have early dementia—even yourself—and when you should raise the alarm. He details the steps you should expect your doctor to take to find out what is wrong. The current treatments available for Alzheimer’s and other dementias, including drugs and behavioral treatments, such as enriched activities, and the treatments and preventions that may be on the horizon are also discussed. The evening concludes with Gordon answering questions from the audience.

Gordon is the founder of the Memory Clinic at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, where he is also a professor of neurology and cognitive science.

Inside Science