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ASU professor heading up free Alzheimer’s event to bring together patients, caregivers, family members

Amanda Goodman

Connecting patients, caregivers and family members with resources and research is the goal behind an annual public conference hosted by the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium.  

This year, David Coon, associate dean and professor at Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation is organizing and emceeing the event. He’s also a member of the consortium and respected researcher and expert in this field. 

Coon says Alzheimer’s is now the fourth leading cause of death in the state of Arizona, and the disease does not discriminate. 

According to 2018 data released by the Alzheimer’s Association, every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s; by 2050, someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds.

There is no cure but researchers and top scientists, many of whom are part of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, are working on advances in prevention and treatment and toward finding a cure.

It’s that ongoing work and recent findings that will be shared at the upcoming conference on Wednesday, Oct. 31 in Phoenix. We spoke with Coon to find out what else attendees can expect.

Question: How is this conference different from other conferences on the topic?

Answer: What makes this unique is the fact that there are a number of scientists from this one-of-a-kind statewide consortium that are slated to speak and answer questions.These are people that are leading the fight in many ways throughout the nation in terms of treatment, care and cure as well as addressing assistance for family caregivers. Each year the speakers who share their research change, so attendees are really exposed to a wide range of topics and the newest research.

Q: Who will be speaking at this year’s conference and what will they be talking about?

A: We have a really well-rounded group this year. Dr. Bryan Woodruff from Mayo Clinic will be speaking and he’ll be focusing on the latest advances in prevention, treatment and care. Leslie Baxter from the Barrow Neurological Institute will also join the panel. Matt Huentelman from TGen will talk about MindCrowd, a first-of-its-kind brain study. Finally, I’ll be updating some of my research around proven interventions to help with stress and mood in both people impacted with the diseases as well as their family caregivers. The presentations will be capped at about 25 minutes but we’ll have plenty of time for questions afterward.

Q: Who should look into attending?

A: This conference is for people in the early stages of Alzheimer's or related dementias, their family caregivers and the providers who serve them. So that includes health care and social service providers that assist the families impacted. But really, anyone who has an interest is welcome too, there are very few people who haven’t been affected in some way by this disease.

Q: What do you hope attendees will come away with from this event?

A: What I hope they walk away with is an understanding of advances and what’s going on in their community in terms of research. Arizona really is leading the nation on that front. Additionally, I hope they recognize all the opportunities available here to have their voices heard in research. It is critically important that we have people engaged so that we can continue to advance treatment, prevention and ultimately find a cure. Finally, I want them to leave knowing that there is a lot of support and programming available for family caregivers — to help deal with all the challenges that come up in that role.

The 2018 Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium Public Conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, at the Black Canyon Conference Center in Phoenix.

Find more information and register to attend this free event. Seating is limited.