“We live in the oldest per capita county in the oldest per capita State of the Union,” said Dr. Allan Teel of Boothbay Region Health Center. “Aging matters around here and there’s a desperate need to pay attention to the things that make a difference.”
Due to this, Teel and the board of the non-profit health center have embarked on a yearlong research program aimed at reducing or reversing cognitive decline. With the help of 30 patients, the program will be based on research conducted by Dr. Dale Bredesen and described in his book “The End of Alzheimer’s.”
Health Center Board Chair Patricia Seybold explained. “According to Dr. Bredesen’s findings there are at least 34 contributing factors that, in any combination, can cause anything from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.” A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease has been, and continues to be, fatal. “And yet, Bredesen has proved that it’s reversible. It requires lifestyle changes – what you eat, how often you exercise, how you sleep. Things that aren’t always easy for older people to change, but most of us are more scared of losing our marbles than just about anything else.”
Teel, a family doctor with more than 40 years’ experience working with geriatrics and researching their needs, will head the program. It was launched in January. Thirty patients enrolled in the first cohort and there is a waiting list of people hoping to get into the second cohort, which Teel and Seybold anticipate starting in June.
“We’re very excited,” said Teel. “It’s a small initiative and there’s much we don’t know, but we have Bredesen’s methods. We’ll be meeting as a group once a month and there’ll be seminars once or twice a month to talk about diet, exercise, changing habits, and to offer support. All the patients will have baseline tests done – blood work, brain scans, cognitive testing – and we’ll retest at six months and again at 12 months.”
The program participants, who range from their mid 60s to late 80s, are all peninsula residents and, said Seybold, “Even if you’re not in the actual program you can still take part, come to the seminars, learn about the lifestyle changes, and follow along.”
The program and seminars are free to all, but, said Seybold, “Funding is definitely tough. We’re applying for grants but we could certainly use some help on that front.”
“Little by little traditional established medical care is acknowledging that for cognitive decline the few drugs that we have don’t make much difference,” said Teel. “But there is tantalizing evidence that exercise, diet, purposeful living, music, art ... all these things do make a difference.”
For more information or to enroll in future programs, contact the Center at 633-1075. To get notifications about seminars and other events, email email@example.com and ask to be added to the mailing list.