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Dr Sharon Cohen, a special guest at the first Memory Café of 2016

Mosaic Home Care Services & Community Resource Centre and the Alzheimer’s Society of York Region hosted the return of the First Link Memory Café in 2016.  Both organizations were excited to have a very special guest give a presentation: Dr. Sharon Cohen the medical director of the Toronto Memory Program.

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Dr. Sharon Cohen has the audience’s attention during her presentation

Dr. Cohen provided much information about Alzheimer’s as well as the wonderful research that the Toronto Memory Program is doing to learn about the disease and ways to fight it. Having Dr. Cohen present at our first Memory Café of the year was the perfect way to start off the year!

The First Link® Memory Café is hosted by Mosaic and the Alzheimer’s Society of York Region. Now entering its 4th year, the First Link Memory Café is an opportunity for individuals who have been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease and/or related dementia, the caregivers, and individuals who worry about memory problems a chance learn about memory problems. The memory café provides a safe place for individuals to share their stories and socialize with others, without the fear of being stigmatized because of their dementia. Being socially, physically and mentally active is good for our brain, and the First Link® Memory Café looks to provide that setting for the community.

Dr. Cohen told us that Alzheimer’s disease is not normal aging, and the biggest challenge is finding the disease early on. The disease takes a very long time to develop, with early stages taking root 30 years before later ones.

Dr. Cohen described the disease in its three phases:

  • The first phase lasts 15 years, the pre-clinical phase.
  • The first phase turns into the second phase which lasts 5 years, which is called the MCI (Mild cognitive Impairment) phase.
  • The third and final stage lasts 10 years, is the dementia phase.

Each phase results in more symptoms appearing and more deterioration of the brain. The deterioration of the brain comes from the buildup of amyloid plaques and tau protein which inhibit the brains normal functions.

Dr. Cohen told attendees that recent research has been focusing on finding and treating the disease in early stages. Luckily for all of us the work being done, by Dr. Sharon Cohen and her team and the Toronto Memory Program, is looking to help people with Alzheimer’s while conducting research on new drugs to treat the disease.

At the clinic patients can receive PET Amyloid Imaging that can detect the proteins, as well as new drugs in the research phase that help to prevent the proteins from developing, as well as help clean the brain of these harmful proteins. The work being done by Dr. Sharon Cohen and her team gives up hope that one day we will be able to successfully treat Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias!

Dr. Cohen also provided attendees tips and how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementias.  Dr. Cohen stressed four ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementias: physical exercise, cognitive exercise, nutrition and reducing stress and getting enough sleep.

  • Physical exercise helps prevent dementias by increasing blood flow to the brain, helping in cell repair, and helping with sleep and stress reduction.
  • Cognitive exercise help to create more connections in the brain and can be done by doing novel things that challenge you to think.
  • A nutritious diet like the Mediterranean diet feature antioxidants and other nutrients that improve our brain health.
  • Finally getting the right amount of sleep and reducing stress helps the brain reorganize memories and flush away the amyloid plaques that are harmful.

Dr. Cohen suggests that these four tips are the best way in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, but that there is no guarantee.

Mosaic and the Alzheimer’s Society of York Region were excited to have had Dr. Sharon Cohen of the Toronto Memory Program come in to speak to the community. As the First Link Memory Café returned for 2016 there could not have been a better speaker to start the year off! You can find out more of the amazing research that Toronto Memory Program is doing on their website. Finally, Mosaic Home Care Services & Community Resource Centre along with the Alzheimer’s Society of York Region is happy to announce we will be expanding the First Link Memory Café Program to the Thornhill Seniors Club in the spring! Stay tuned for more information!

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Jonathan Alzheimer Society York Region, Dr. Sharon Cohen, Mala and Abdullah pose for a photo.

 

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