Assessing Your Brain Health: It's a Family Affair
*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 Hoag Neurosciences Institute
and offered at a cost of $45.
When you first meet Laguna Beach resident, David Johnson (DJ), his upbeat
personality and positive attitude is immediately apparent. Equally transparent
is his fondness toward his father, Ken. “He is my best friend and
a much better tennis player than I will ever be,” says DJ.
Ken is an active 83-year old Corona del Mar resident who enjoys playing
tennis and lifting weights, but recently experienced symptoms of memory
loss. With Hoag’s help, DJ and Ken gained important information
regarding their cognitive health that proved to be beneficial to them both.
For the past 22 years, Ken has been an integral part of DJ’s successful
team working with Orange County’s developmentally disabled citizens.
Recently, DJ noticed changes in his dad’s behavior at work. “He
started repeating himself and his memory seemed to decline,” recalls
DJ. “At first it was frustrating, but I soon realized something
DJ took Ken to his primary care physician who prescribed medication to
keep Ken’s symptoms under control. The medication was helping Ken
with his symptoms, however, shortly after his 50th birthday, David began
thinking about his own cognitive health.
“My family and I used to joke about memory because I can recall
things that happened when I was five and six years old,” says DJ.
“But I knew my dad was dealing with memory issues so it heightened
my awareness and concern about my own health.” That’s when
DJ learned about the Orange County Vital Aging Program through Hoag Neurosciences
Hoag Neurosciences started a comprehensive approach to combat the community’s
fear of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) through
the Orange County Vital Aging Program* (OCVAP) launched in 2010, under
the direction of William R. Shankle, M.S., M.D., F.A.C.P., program director,
Memory & Cognitive Disorders, Hoag Neurosciences Institute.
The Orange County Vital Aging Program includes:
- Free public educational seminars
- Website and online resources to identify, track and reduce ADRD risk factors
- Free in-person memory assessment at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach and Oasis
Senior Center (other locations coming soon)
- Physician and community resources
- Free monthly e-newsletter with the latest information on ADRD, news and
“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 to delay the impact of Alzheimer’s disease,” states
DJ took both his mom and dad to Hoag Neurosciences Institute to be screened
as a family. “I realized the sooner ADRD is detected and properly
treated, the better the chances were for a recovery. It was a relief for
all of us,” states DJ. “The unknown was a little scary, so
it was nice to have solid information and resources available.”
DJ and Ken still work together and remain best friends. They plan to be
re-tested annually to track their progress. “Everyone over the age
of 50 should take advantage of this unique program,” says DJ. “It’s
important to get your family and loved ones involved, even if it’s
just for your own peace of mind.”
The OCVAP recommends a three-step process to assess your brain health:
1. Register online at OCVitalAging.org and take the self assessment.
2. Take an in-person assessment with a participating physician or at Hoag.
3. Repeat in one year to track your progress.
To access the self-assessment tools, for more information on OCVAP, or
to schedule a free in-person assessment, visit www.OCVitalAging.org or
* The OCVAP is supported by a grant to Hoag Neurosciences Institute from
UniHealth Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organization whose mission
is to support and facilitate activities that significantly improve the
health and well being of individuals and communities within its service area.