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Baltimore Hebrew Congregation discusses Alzheimer's risks

Dr. Jason Brandt, a prominent, well-respected physician on the prestigious faculty of the Johns Hopkins University, was the interesting guest speaker at a very informative morning meeting at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

Dr. Brandt is professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, professor of Neurology and director of the Division of Medical Psychology in the School of Medicine as well as director of the Cortical Function Lab at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In addition, he is professor of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Copper Ridge Institute, a not-for-profit dementia research and education organization. Wow, what an impressive list of titles and involvements!

Note: Dr. Brandt, has been teaching medical students at Johns Hopkins Hospital for 30 years. He was published in the book "Broken Fragments." In addition, he has published over 300 articles and book chapters regarding amnesia and other memory related disorders, dementia syndromes and neuropsychological assessment.

In 1996, Dr. Brandt received the Arthur Benton Award for mid-career achievement from the International Neuropsychological Society, and in 1997, Dr. Brandt was named a "Hero of Medicine" by Time magazine. Mazel Tov on these acknowledgements! Dr. Brandt is certainly deserving of these prestigious honors!

Introduced by Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, this morning meeting began with memory identification. There are two types of memory, immediate and prospective, that change as a perfectly normal part of the aging process.

Dr. Brandt's discussion included the fact that most people experience some decline in memory efficiency as we age, especially after the age of 70 or 70 plus.

Amnesia can be seen with other cognitive impairments, dementia, delirium, etc.

Amnesia can happen with traumatic head/brain injury, lack of oxygen to the brain, also encephalitis, stroke or lack of thiamin nutrition.

There are two different types of dementia, cortical and sub-cortical. Cortical dementia is a disorder of memory, while sub-cortical slows thinking and features impaired attention, calculation and poor planning. In regard to dementia, especially in the elderly, this is atrophy of their brain.

Alzheimer's incubates in the brain for a long time before it actually develops. Alzheimer's disease is cortical shrinkage; 40 percent of seniors older than 85 develop it; 5.3 million Americans are affected. Approximately 14 million people will be affected by the year 2050.

Naturally, people are living longer, therefore physicians are seeing more patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Who develops Alzheimer's? A few younger people do; however, this is a disease that mostly affects seniors. A few risk factors include patients with advanced age, a genetic history, low education, and head injuries/traumas early in life.

Important strategies to improve memory include the use of vitamins and nutrients, anti-inflammatory medicines, hormones, estrogen replacement therapy and herbal preparations.

Tips include staying mentally active, avoiding excessive alcohol - Dr. Brandt recommended drinking red wine in moderation - eating a balanced diet, getting treatment for depression, anxiety or other psychological disorders.

This interesting program was planned and coordinated by Baltimore Hebrew Congregation's "Family Concerns Committee" with Carol Caplan, the dedicated chairwoman.

Carol's equally dedicated committee members included Marcia Bornfriend, Karan Engerman, Shirley Simon, Phyllis Lederman, Sylvia Beser, Jane Theodore and Irv Simon. Phil Abraham assisted behind the scenes.

In addition to the above, also among the many attendees were Ann Fishkin, Debbie Blank, Col. Jerry Altman, Marv Rubin, Dr. Harriet Meier, Betty Segal, Marilyn Fisher, Bev Kalus, Mel Gordon and many others too numerable to list.

Marcia Bornfriend was this meetings fotog. Thanks, Marcia!

Gargantuan thanks Dr. Jason Brandt, the very knowledgeable, informative and interesting guest speaker!

This columnist overheard this compliment after the interesting morning meeting, "A brilliant physician! Dr. Brandt sure does know his stuff!" This columnist adds, "Ditto!"

Reminder: Monday, April 8th denotes the beginning of Yom HaShoah until early May.

This denotes the 70th anniversary during the horrific holocaust years, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. This is a time of remembrance to the terrible degradation/atrocities against the Jewish people during WWII.

Memo: Shabbat candle-lighting time, Friday evening, April 5th is 7:16 p.m.

Have and enjoy a terrific week everyone! Yes, everyone! Hope that everyone enjoyed their individual holidays, Passover and Easter. And, Spring 2013 has finally arrived! Better late than never!

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