Much of Alzheimer’s disease research around the globe involves investigating drugs to figure out if they may help slow the progression of the disease.
And while we too have those trials going on at the PMC (such as the A4 study), it’s not just about drugs here. We’re also investigating a lot of creative ways, many of which focus on cognitive fitness, to tackle Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the most recent examples of this is a Memory Game app created by PMC Director of Cognitive Fitness Programs and Neuropsychological Services Dawn Mechanic-Hamilton, PhD and PMC Co-Director David Wolk, MD. The game, which is currently being piloted in the Aging Brain Cohort (ABC) study, is based on the card game Concentration. Here is what the app looks like.
Drs. Mechanic-Hamilton and Wolk hope that the app will provide another way to detect cognitive changes that may not be so obvious among patients; however, more research is required to do this.
“The more immediate next step is to detect cognitive changes in people in clinical trials over time, to test the memory skills we expect to be impacted, and to do so in a way that is less burdensome on patients and families and will give reliable data,” said Dr. Mechanic-Hamilton.
Another focal point of her research has been on Sniffin’ Sticks Odor Identification Test (SS-OIT), which is a way to assess a person’s sense of smell. The SS-OIT pen-like sticks each have a different smell, reminiscent of the widely popular Mr. Sketch markers you may have used as a child.
Recently, Dr. Mechanic-Hamilton was involved with a SS-OIT study to gather information about what the baseline, or norm, is for cognitively intact older adults. Prior to her work, no norms for older adults in the United States existed.
“The idea is we want to see how good people are at labeling odors because we know in aging, our ability to do so will increase in time sort of naturally. But in neurodegenerative diseases it decreases even more,” she said. “We’re using it as a way to get more information on whether or not this person has a sensory deficit that’s out of proportion of what we expected, based on age.”
The PMC has also been running Cognitive Fitness programs since 2011. The structure of these programs have changed over the years. Currently, we offer two 8-week groups. One group, called CogFit Skills, runs in the fall. The other, called CogFit Psychotherapy, runs in the spring. Both courses are for individuals diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
Our final Memory Café of 2018 will be on Friday, December 7 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Old City. Curtis Institute of Music students will perform classical music and create a relaxing environment for attendees. It’s exclusively for people with memory problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, and their partners/families. The program is free. Please RSVP to Alison Lynn at 215-360-0257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bridges to Wealth is holding a new, three-part Financial Empowerment Series. The next two sessions are on Wednesday, December 12 and Wednesday, December 19 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the St. Charles Senior Community Center. This is a financial education program where attendees will learn how to repair credit, reduce debt, and build wealth. After completing at least two sessions in the series, attendees are welcome to join a PMC investment group that meets monthly at the Ralston Center. This program is free.
The PMC Communications Team
Terrence Casey, Joyce Lee, Janissa Delzo, Linnea Langkammer, and Sharnita Midgett