UH Med Now
ALZHEIMER’S EXPERT says a multidisciplinary center could build on Hawaiʻi’s top-notch aging research and clinical care
Hawaiʻi has done world-class research in aging, and could contribute more with the establishment of a multidisciplinary Alzheimer’s Center, according to one of the nation’s leading Alzheimer’s experts.
“Alzheimer’s disease presents one of the greatest health care challenges of the 21st century,” said Dr. Marsel Mesulam, in a speech in Waikiki. Dr. Mesulam was the founder of the Behavioral Neurology Unit of Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital.
More than 300 physicians, scientists, social scientists, healthcare and civic leaders gathered to hear Dr. Mesulam’s keynote address during the “Hawaiʻi Pathways to Excellence in Dementia Care and Research Symposium,” on February 6.
“Addressing this disease requires an integrated effort based on diagnostic accuracy, clinical care, basic research, education and psychosocial interventions,” said Dr. Mesulam. “Hawaii has a world-class reputation in aging research and also a special population that deserves a comprehensive approach to Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “These ingredients will energize collaborative initiatives to establish a multidisciplinary Alzheimer’s disease center in Hawaii.”
The Hawaiʻi symposium was organized by the Executive Office on Aging (EOA) in collaboration with Hawaii Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort.
Experts from the University of Hawaiʻi also contributed to the dialog at the symposium. John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Dean Jerris Hedges introduced Governor Neil Abercrombie to begin the event. Gov. Abercrombie delivered the “Charge to Participants” and welcomed keynote speaker Dr. Mesulam.
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.
University of Hawaiʻi experts present latest medical and social science researchColette Brown, Patricia Blanchette, Marsel Mesulam, Michiko Inaba, Kamal Masaki, Kore Liow
Other speakers included Kore Liow, MD, Clinical Professor of Neurology and Director of Hawaiʻi Alzheimer’s Disease Center; Kamal Masaki, MD, Professor and Chair at the University of Hawaiʻi JABSOM 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 Hawaiʻi; and Wesley Lum, PhD, MPH, Director of Executive Office Aging. The symposium examined the medical and social science research on dementia in Hawaii, and facilitated collaboration with all sectors to address the disease locally.
Dr. Mesulam expressed his support for the work Hawaiʻi is doing to promote better dementia care and research including the Hawaiʻi Alzheimer’s Disease Center. 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 Hawaiʻi.
Hawaiʻi: Alzheimer’s and dementia affects an estimated 31,000–but actual toll is likely much higher
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 Hawaiʻi, the estimate is 31,000, but this only takes into account those over 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.
The Executive Office on Aging contributed to this report. Mahalo to State Task Force Coordinator Jody Mishan and Dr. Kore Liow (JABSOM Clinical Faculty member) of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
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