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Orange County Vital Aging Program: delaying the impact of Alzheimer's disease in our community

*Fee for in-person screenings: The screenings were offered during an introductory period free of charge through a grant from The UniHealth Foundation. The screenings are now generously subsidized by Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute and offered at a cost of $45.

California Alzheimer’s disease data report published in 2009 estimated that in Orange County, approximately 46,000 people had Alzheimer’s disease in 2008, a number expected to grow by 99 percent by 2030.
In addition, 11 percent of the population, or roughly 330,000 people, are 65 years of age and older (based on 2007 data). Of those individuals, approximately one out of four potentially have mild memory loss or cognitive impairment (dementia?), which is now known to greatly increase the risk of developing dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD).

Methods of prevention and treatment have been identified in recent research trials that might significantly delay both the onset of symptoms and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Early assessment may provide reassurance of healthy aging, or detect a problem in its earliest stages. Benefits of early detection include forestalling the progression of dementing illnesses to maintain quality of life, reducing long-term institutionalization, and reducing related health care costs.

To help combat the community’s fears of dementia, Hoag Neurosciences Institute has started a comprehensive approach to these problems through the Orange County Vital Aging Program* (OCVAP) launched in July, under the direction of William R. Shankle, M.S., M.D., program director,Memory & Cognitive Disorders, Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute.

“The design of the program encourages the community, primary care physicians, and specialists to work together to proactively address this growing concern, and to help counter the assumptions that nothing can be done,” states Michael Brant-Zawadzki, M.D., executive medical director,Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute. “The OCVAP is being looked at by national leaders in the field as a prototype of what a community-based ADRD prevention program might look like.”

The self-assessment tools available on the program’s website allow users to gain education and preliminarily assess their brain health by checking their memory, mood and risk factors of ADRD. The OCVAP encourages and offers more formal assessment and monitoring of memory in-person either through participating physicians, or at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach as a useful way to help prevent and delay the onset of ADRD. If seen at Hoag, participants will receive a free personalized report that may reassure them, or suggest the need for further testing.

For more information on the OCVAP or to schedule a free* screening, please or call 949/764-6288.