Max Lugavere seems an unlikely patient to be sitting in an Alzheimer’s clinic.
The fit, 32-year-old, dressed in Converse All-Star sneakers and a white T-shirt, eats a carefully calibrated diet and exercises regularly. He takes supplements of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B and D. He also has zero symptoms of memory or cognitive loss.
“I generally like to feel I have a handle on my health,” Lugavere says during a session with Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. “My mother is 62 and she has memory loss and cognitive difficulty.… So when I came across this idea of dementia prevention, it was eye-opening,” says Lugavere, a filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles and New York.
Alzheimer’s experts increasingly are researching ways to prevent or delay memory decline instead of just focusing on treating patients who have the disease. There have been encouraging results from some studies of preventive strategies, including lifestyle interventions in people at risk for dementia. Some 5.2 million people in the U.S. had Alzheimer’s in 2014, a number that is expected to about triple by 2050.
“There is growing evidence that lifestyle modifications do have an impact on our cognitive aging,” said Ronald Petersen, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “But to really say that we can prevent Alzheimer’s disease is a bit of a stretch.”
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