The AAGP held its first Brain Health Summit virtually with invited speakers representing the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry and other stakeholders chaired by Dr. Helen Lavretsky, the President of AAGP.
The first speaker, Bruce Miller, MD the Director of the Global Brain Health Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, along with Drs. Kristin Yaffe and Brain Lawlor discussed their work in protecting aging populations around the world, emphasizing inclusivity of underserved communities in the clinical trials to reduce dementia rates in low and middle-income communities via the Institute’s international fellowship program, which aims to train future leaders in the field of brain health Their collaboration can serve as an example of global brain health movement focusing on the modifiable lifestyle factors of dementia.
Harris Eyer, MD, PHD presented the update on the efforts of the Brain Capital Alliance highlighting the importance of brain health in face of the impact of various factors such as climate extremes, pandemics, chronic stress, and plastic pollution. He emphasized the need for a system-level approach and cross-disciplinary collaboration, and the importance of investing in brain capital to address societal challenges and drive innovation, citing the negative impacts of neglecting brain health.
Other speakers, including Mitchell Elkind, MD (American Heart Association), Sarah Lock, JD (AARP), and David Evans, MBA (American Academy of Neurology), and Courtney Closke (Alzheimer’s Association) who discussed the role of their respective organization in the Brain Health Alliance, all converging on the opportunities for collaboration and importance of training the next generation and changing narrative around dementia care and prevention efforts, advocacy for older adults and their families and caregivers.
Finally, the former president of the AAGP and the IPA, William Reichman, MD, gave his example of very successful and innovative Baycrest Brain Health and Aging programs offering senior health and residential care, along with research initiatives. He stressed the need for sustained research contributions in the senior care sector and mentioned various initiatives and programs related to brain health. The discussion concluded with Bill announcing that Baycrest has secured $106 million in funding and established 165 sites across the US and Canada to support promising solutions for aging and brain health.
The researchers and academic leaders of the AAGP discussed new directions and collaborations stressing the importance of brain health and the need for a transdisciplinary approach to address the social determinants of brain health and the risk of inequities, suggesting to focus on reaching those who could benefit most. The team discussed the interconnectedness between brain and mental health.
The conversation concluded on a positive note, with Dr. Kiran Rabheru proposed a human rights-based approach to addressing social determinants of health. The team agreed on the importance of incorporating recent advances in neuroscience into the framework of brain health and decided to explore this further through longitudinal cohort studies. Dr Benoit Mulsant emphasized the importance of focusing on dementia and severe mental illness, highlighting the interplay between cognition and mental health. All agreed that starting prevention early via successful treatment of mental disorders in younger adults and even, children and adolescence and training all in brain health techniques, using music and stress-reduction would help prevent mental disorders of aging.
Dr. Paul Newhouse suggested the potential of using biomarkers to identify those at higher risk and recommended considering what biological and psychological markers should be recommended for optimal brain health. Dr. Olu Ajilore highlighted the importance of collaborations across different disciplines and the potential for these to benefit career development programs. Dr. Charles Reynolds emphasized the need for a staging approach to understanding risk and protective factors for brain health for instituting primordial (social determinants of health in the general population), primary (general population), secondary (at risk groups), and tertiary (in patients with conditions) prevention strategies. The group also discussed the need to consolidate and clarify information for the general public. The discussion concluded with a suggestion to continue the conversation at the 2024 annual meeting (Atlanta GA in March 15-18, 2024) and organizing a steering committee for the brain health initiative.
We encourage all to view the recording of the 2023 Summit.