Monday, 17 October 2016

Prevent Alzheimer’s? Yes, We Can! What did we learn at the Smith Lecture on Dementia?

Professor Emeritus A. David Smith of the University of Oxford has worked at the frontiers of neuroscience for more than 50 years.In particular he has been at the forefront of research into novel treatments and techniques for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

A packed audience sat enthralled as Emeritus Professor A. David Smith (University of Oxford, UK) spoke of his research into novel treatments and techniques for Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia during the BRNZ Inaugural Public Lecture on 3 February 2016 sponsored by the Neurological Foundation and Brain Research New Zealand.

Then came this question from the audience:
“Can we prevent Alzheimer’s?”

“Yes, we can!” was Prof. Smith’s resounding reply.

Here’s How:

Prof. A. David Smith’s recommendations:

·                Stop smoking.
·                30 minutes of brisk exercise each day (enough to get you puffing and sweating).
·                If you have diabetes and/or high blood pressure, take drugs that effectively treat these.
·                Increase the Mediterranean elements of your diet, especially your 5+ a day of fruit and vegetables.
·                Eat fish once or more a week.
·                Watch your blood glucose.
·                Make sure your vitamin D and B12 status is good.
·                If you do have memory problems, get your homocysteine checked.  (Homocysteine is a common amino acid in your blood. You get it mostly from eating meat. High levels of it are linked to early development of heart disease. In fact, a high level of homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease. It's associated with low levels of vitamins B6, B12, and folate, as well as renal disease.)
·                If it’s high, take B vitamins in consultation with your GP.
·                Keep mentally and socially active

Here’s Why

Prof. Smith cited, (among others), the Caerphilly Cohort Study.  Read the full study
Twenty-five years ago, 2,235 men between the ages of 45 and 59 agreed to take part in a longitudinal study.  They were tested again in 2013.

The group who had adopted these healthy behaviours:

·                Non-smoking
·                Consuming more than 3 portions of fruit / vegetables a day
·                Consuming less than 30% of calories as fat
·                Taking daily exercise
·                Drinking less than 3 units of alcohol per day

had a 64% lower risk of dementia.  It’s as simple as that!  (Visit the Neurological Foundation for a full coverage of Professor Smith’s presentation.)

Is Alzheimer’s inherited?
When asked if Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by our genes, Prof. Smith dispelled that myth.

‘Less than 1% of dementia cases are entirely genetic’.

About 20% of the population has common gene mutations (called susceptibility genes) which may slightly increase the risk of developing dementia, but in 99% of all cases, dementia does not have genetic causes.

Most common risk factors for dementia are NOT genetic. Here they are:

·                Age
·                Smoking
·                Mid-life high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity
·                Depression
·                Low social activity
·                Physical inactivity
·                Low education
·                Diabetes and high blood sugar
·                Low intake of omega-3 fatty acids
·                High blood homocysteine (due to low levels of B vitamins)

Here’s the best news! Dementia CAN be prevented.

Please find below links to an overview of Professor Smith's lecture on Dementia and his presentation.

1.   Click here for Professor Smith's presentation

2.   Click here for an overview of Professor Smith lecture

Science Note:

What’s the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of conditions that affect how well our brains work.

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease – which around two-thirds of people with dementia have.

The symptoms each person experiences depends on the parts of the brain that are affected. However, the most common dementia symptoms include changes in memory, thinking, behaviour, personality and emotions. These changes affect a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks and interfere with their everyday lives.

Why does Alzheimer’s affect people differently?

QUESTION: Both my mother and my father-in-law suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. We’re told that they both seem to be at about the same point in the physical progression of the disease. But my father-in-law has remained fairly lucid, while my mother is more confused and forgetful. What could account for this?

Harvard Medical School’s Adviser gives the answer:

ANSWER: The tremendous number of nerve cells and connections between cells in a healthy brain provide a seemingly infinite capacity for processing information. It also provides a margin of safety in case some cells are damaged. In Alzheimer’s disease, however, the wholesale destruction of nerve cells eliminates this safety net, especially in the brain areas involved in memory and cognition.

But as you’ve noted, the disease doesn’t always affect people in the same way or with similar severity. Consider two older people with the same amount of Alzheimer’s disease–related plaques and tangles in their brains. One person has some memory miscues now and then, but continues to lead a relatively normal life. The other has the severe loss of memory and other cognitive deficits that typify Alzheimer’s disease.

Why the difference? One explanation is that they had differing amounts of cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve can protect you from the effects of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that affect the brain.

Cognitive reserve can be thought of as having two parts, hardware and software. The hardware consists of brain cells, or neurons, and connections between those brain cells, which are called synapses. The theory is that people with more brain cells and synapses at their disposal are better able to maintain cognitive functions even after important brain cells are damaged.

The software is the brain’s capacity for finding alternative circuits and neural networks if disease or injury is blocking the usual ones. People’s cognitive abilities can stay roughly the same if their brains are adept at these workarounds.

Brain reserve capacity — the term sometimes used for the hardware — is, in large part, genetically determined. But the human brain is capable of generating new synapses and neurons throughout life, and the input of stimulating experiences has been shown to alter brain structure.

There is plenty of research to back up this idea. Brain scans of people learning to juggle show increases in the size of brain structures linked with the visual processing of movement. MRIs of the brains of London taxi drivers have shown that they have larger-than-normal posterior hippocampi, an area of the brain involved in spatial memory.

Formal educational achievement is an important factor, but virtually any mentally challenging or engaging activity seems to have a positive effect on cognitive reserve.

Some research has found that crossword puzzles, Sudoku and other “brain exercise” activities have a narrow effect: That is, if you do Sudoku puzzles, you become better at doing Sudoku puzzles and little else.

But a study showed that Sudoku and other puzzles also made older people more open to trying new things, so there’s still much more to be learned in this area.

Physical activity may be just as important as mental activity for brain health and building up cognitive reserve. Dozens of studies have shown it to have a pronounced effect, and aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up may be especially important.

Exercise seems to affect the brain directly, increasing the number of synapses and enhancing the action of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that make brain cell-to-brain cell communication possible. It also increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a “brain juice” protein that promotes the production of new brain cells and the survival of existing ones.

Physical activity also has indirect effects. If your heart and lungs are strong and healthy, more oxygen-rich blood will circulate to the brain. And exercise controls and reduces the risk of conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure that can put brain cells in harm’s way.

For the brain and the rest of the body, the wisdom of Hippocrates may be as true today as it was 2,400 years ago: That which is used develops that which is not used, wastes away.

Start your brain training today!

(Sources:  Memory Foundation, 8 April 2012, Neurological Foundation of New Zealand, 3 February 2016))

Friday, 16 September 2016

Conference Update: ADFM National Caregivers Conference "Caregivers Journey" 24 & 25 September 2016, Jointly with University Malaya

Dear All,

A Conference for Alzheimer’s Caregivers and Healthcare Professionals

A gentle reminder!

You are cordially invited to join us in Kuala Lumpur for the ADFM National Caregivers Conference 2016 which is a joint organised event with University of Malaya in conjunction with the global commemoration of World Alzheimer’s Month in September each year to raise more awareness of dementia among the public; to change the stigma and people’s perceptions on Alzheimer’s disease (AD); a time to reflect on the impact of dementia, what we can do to support and improve the lives of people with dementia and their caregivers - a disease that will affect more and more people as years pass.

DATE :      September 24 & 25, 2016 (Saturday & Sunday)
THEME:    “Caregiver’s Journey

This year the Conference Theme is “Caregiver’s Journey” and it reflects ADFM’s objective to engage with carers of people suffering from dementia and healthcare professionals, and to address the plights and issues facing the caregivers and their AD loved ones.

The ConferenceProgram encompasses a one and a half days of talks, seminars and forums, covering various topics such as, medical and psychological management of Alzheimer’s disease, support and care resources for carers, nutrition, financial and care planning, and developments toward person-centred dementia care. Our speakers include specialists from various fields: doctors, psychologists, educators, geriatricians, and professor of law.

The conference highlight is the Caregiver’s Forum on the 25 September which provides a platform for the caregivers and their families to engage with the panel of specialist doctors - to share their experience and challenges; highlight their plights and predicament as a caregiver to the communities and care providers.

For Caregivers, a Survey/Feedback Form will be email to you and kindly return to us the completed form. The Panel of Doctors will address your issues on the Forum Day.

Two concurrent sessions will be held at:

(1)   Seminar Room One, 24 September (Saturday), 2.00pm to 4.00pm, Awareness Talk in Mandarin “Caring of People with Alzheimer’s Dementia” 

The Speaker is Dr Gemma Law, Assistant Professor from HKU SPACE, Hong Kong, and during Q&As, will be assisted by Geriatrician, Dr Teh Hoon Lang. NO Registration Fee for participants who register for this Mandarin session. Registration and confirmation will be on first-come first-basis.

(2)   Seminar Room Two, 24 & 25 September (1 & l/2 days), Special Care Program for People Living with Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD)

Caregivers can leave their AD loved ones so that they and their families can attend the conference at the auditorium. The AD friends will be engaged with specially arranged brain gym program and other cognitive activities under the care and supervision of experienced Nurses and care attendants during the 1+1/2 day conference. Limited to 20-30 registered participants (AD persons). Registration and confirmation will be based on space available. Further information, contact / 016 608 2513.

Participants and Fees:       
(1, 2, 3, 4)
 Main Conference (24 and 25 September 2016)
Fee (RM)
Category 1
People with Alzheimer’s dementia (accompanied by their caregiver) – indicate Full Name of the AD person in your registration. 
Category 2
For the First family caregiver only - indicate Full Name of AD Person and the relationship.
Category 3
Other categories – other family members, healthcare professionals, Allied Health Workers, from nursing/university colleges, nursing homes, and the public.
Category 4
Awareness Talk Session in Mandarin (24 September, 2.00pm-4.00pm) by Dr Gemma Law from Hong Kong. Facilitator, Dr Teh  Hoon Lang, Geriatrician
Compulsory registration based on first come first basis. Walk-In will not be accepted due to logistics.

Certificate of Attendance:
Will be issued to healthcare professionals and workers (please provide full name and NRIC No). Participants are to collect their certificate from the registration desk after the caregivers’ forum on 25 September.

Registration and Payment:
(1) Email completed Registration Form to: and copy for confirmation of your registration.

(2) Upon confirmation of registration, make immediate direct payment via online/ATM to ADFM Bank Account with CIMB Bank at Bank Account No. 800 229 3277. (If Cheque, the cheuqe must be crossed and addressed to: “Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation”.)

(3) Email copy of your Payment Receipt to: OR Fax to: 603 – 7960 8482 for reconfirmation of your registration.

(4) An acknowledgement will be sent to you upon receiving your Payment Receipt.

Any clarification, please email: and copy or WhatsApp / call 016 608 2513.

Kindly register and make payment early please, for our logistic purposes. 

For details of Program, registration and payment, refers to (1) ConferenceProgram & (2) Registration Form.

Sunday, 25 September 2016
(A Joint  Community Event  with  6th College  of  UM  Medical  Faculty)


Registration of Attendance - No Registration Fee

Warming Up Exercise by Science Sports Team, University Malaya
Flag-off - YAB Dato Seri Hajah Toh Puan Dr Aishah Ong

Poco Poco Folk Dance by Dancers from Alzheimer Indonesia

Talk on Poco Poco Dance by Representative from  Alzheimer’s Indonesia

The stigmatization of dementia is a global problem and it is clear that the less we talk about dementia, the more the stigma will grow. This World Alzheimer’s Month, we encourage you to find out more and play your part in reducing the stigma and improving the lives of people with dementia and their carers in your community.

JOIN the Memory Walk to raise public awareness and support. 

We welcome generous Sponsors / Donors for sponsorship and /or donations to help us defray our huge expenses in organizing the above events (Tax Exempt Receipt will be issued to Donors).

(1) All donations - to bank-in direct to ADFM Bank Account with CIMB Bank at Account No. 800 229 3277.

(2) Email scanned copy of your Bank-In Receipt to: or WhatsApp to 016 608 2513, providing your FULL NAME, mobile contact, and email for our acknowledgement.

(3) For sponsorship, you are welcome to contact the undersigned.

(4) Due recognition and publicity will be accorded to our sponsors and donors in all our publicity banners/materials/programs, website, and on conference day.

Sponsored by:

See all of you at the Conference and Memory Walk soon !!!

Best wishes and regards
016 608 2513 / /
for ADFM-UM Joint Conference Organizing Committee

A Conference for Caregivers and Healthcare Professionals
 Commemoration of World Alzheimer’s Month, September

24 & 25 SEPTEMBER 2016
UM Research Management and Innovation Complex

(Emcee: Dr Khor Hui Min)

Registration of Participants

Tea/Coffee & Refreshment

Welcome Address
Datuk Dr Yim Khai Kee, Chairman, ADFM Exco
Address by Conference Co-Organizing Chairman
Assoc. Prof. Dr Tan Maw Pin, Geriatrician
Poco-Poco Folk Dance
By Dancers (Fitri, Lelly & Asti) from Alzheimer’s  Indonesia
Person- Centered Dementia Care
Dr Lee Fatt Soon, Consultant Geriatrician
Early Onset Familial Alzheimer’s Disease
Professor Dr Chin Ai Vyrn, Consultant Geriatrician

Advances on Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease
Dr Alan Pok, Geriatrician
Medical Management of Alzheimer’s Disease
Professor Dr Esther Ebenezer,
Consultant Psycho-Geriatrician
Psychological Management of Alzheimer’s Disease
Dr. Chan Yee Fai, Psychogeriatrician
End of Life Care in  Alzheimer’s Persons
Dr Yau Weng Keong, Consultant Physician & Geriatrician

Caregiver Support and Care
Dr Elizabeth Chong, Geriatrician
Innovative in Care “Dining by Design”
Ms Lim Siew Eng, Accredited Trainer & Educator, Facilitator & Aged Care Worker
Management of Functional Mobility for Alzheimer’s Persons
Mr Thillainathan a/l Krishnan, Occupational Therapist, Family Health Development Division, MOH Malaysia
Legal, Financial and Healthcare Planning for People with Alzheimer’s Disease
Assistant Professor,  Siti Zaharah Binti Jamaluddin, Faculty of Law, UM
Sharing the Latest Pioneering Project in Hong Kong "Exercises and Nutrition" for People with Dementia 
Dr Gemma Law from Hong Kong, Assistant Professor, HKU SPACE
Announcement of next day program
Emcee/Facilitator, Dr Khor Hui Min, Geriatrician  


Speaker / Facilitators
Caring of Persons with Alzheimer’s Dementia and Sharing Session

Dr Gemma Law, Assistant Professor, HKU SPACE, Hong Kong
(Facilitator – Geriatrician, Dr Teh Hoon Lang)
24 & 25 SEPTEMBER 2016 (One & l/2 DAYS) – SEMINAR ROOM 2
Caregivers, please register early if you wish your AD loved one to be engaged with cognitive stimulating activities for the one and l/2 days when you are attending the conference at the Auditorium.  They will be cared for under a Team of Experienced Geriatric Nurses.
Registration of Participants
FREE – No registration Fee
Warming Up Exercise
Instructor & Team from the Science Sports , University Malaya
YAB Toh Puan Dato Seri HjH Dr Aishah Ong
Poco Poco Folk Dance
By Dancers (Fitri, Lelly and Asti) from Alzheimer’s Indonesia (AZLI)
SUNDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER 2016 (2nd Day, Main Conference)

Panel Members:  Prof.  Dr Chin Ai Vyrn,  Prof. Dr Esther Ebenezer,  Prof. Dr Shahrul Bahyah Kamaruzzaman
(Emcee/Facilitator:  Geriatrician, Dr Khor Hui Min / Geriatrician, Dr Elizabeth Chong)

Registration of Attendance
For conference participants only
Tea/Coffee & Refreshment
For conference participants only
“A Dementia Caring Community”
Prof. Dr Shahrul Bahyah Kamaruzzaman, Consultant Geriatrician
The Alzheimer’s Journey Together with My Mom
Ms Satiapoorany K Subramanian
Forum  Q & A Session
Open to the caregivers / participants
Closing remarks from Chair Person
Prof. Dr Chin Ai Vyrn
Light Refreshment

End of Conference