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Keeping Your Brain Vital

Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program Celebrates Five Years as a Significant Community Resource

Friends of the Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program (OCVBAP) recently gathered to celebrate its fifth anniversary. OCVBAP has established itself as an educational powerhouse that is actively helping Orange County’s aging population to maintain and improve cognitive health.

Supported by UniHealth Foundation and philanthropy from the family of Hoag donors, OCVBAP has made great strides in:

• Patient and community education
• Physician training and engagement
• Creating tools to improve cognition and brain vitality

William R. Shankle, M.D., the Judy & Richard Voltmer Endowed Chair and director of Memory and Cognitive Disorders, Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute, says that people can prevent dementia or delay it for many years.

“Currently, 12 million Americans have mild cognitive impairment that will become disabling in an average of seven years if nothing is done,” he says. “We now know that cognitive impairment due to these conditions can be prevented. We must take action now.”

According to Dr. Shankle, ninety percent of all persons with cognitive impairment have a treatable condition. Forty-five percent have a chronic condition that requires better management and 45 percent have Alzheimer’s disease. He stresses that Alzheimer’s disease can be delayed for years through combined treatment including medication, regular physical exercise, mentally stimulating activity and social interaction.

“Cognitive impairment can be detected before it affects you in any way, so that you can maximally preserve your brain,” he stresses. “The key to such detection is to get an annual assessment and monitor changes just like we monitor our cholesterol. OCVBAP and our engaged physicians are well equipped to do this.”

OCVBAP has educated over 7,000 public attendees through joint programs with the Alzheimer’s Family Services Center, Council on Aging, Bower’s Museum, Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra and Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.

OCVBAP has educated and trained 1,000 primary care physicians and specialists. OCVBAP’s cognitive assessment tools have evaluated nearly 19,000 people, through OCVBAP’s cognitive assessment service or through OCVBAP-educated physicians. Regardless of the test result, patients feel relieved because they know something can be done to protect and optimize their brain health.

OCVBAP’s next task is to expand in Orange County and to reach physicians and public audiences nationwide. Finding ways to increase the use of objective, sensitive measures of cognition will have enormous impact on brain health and quality of life by preventing and delaying dementia.

If you would like more information on how you can help OCVBAP continue its mission to prevent and delay dementia, contact Stacy Sanchez-Hunt at (949) 764-7210 or Stacy.Hunt@hoag.org.

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