Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011 | 2 a.m.
While we take time to recognize World Alzheimer’s Day this Wednesday, we would first like to recognize and give heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the entire Las Vegas community for the enormous support it has given to the Keep Memory Alive Foundation and the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center.
Since the formation of the Keep Memory Alive Foundation in Nevada in 1996, and only through the amazing support of thousands of contributors, A-list celebrities and hundreds of volunteers, we have raised more than $100 million and made many of our dreams a reality.
Keep Memory Alive has built the world’s most iconic brain center, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, and partnered with Cleveland Clinic (recently ranked the fourth-best hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report) to bring the best medical minds to our state.
It is a very exciting time at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center. Due to the addition of our growing list of new doctors, we are now able to offer world-class treatment for not only Alzheimer’s, but also ALS, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and multiple sclerosis. With our new state-of-the-art equipment and expansion of services — including advanced imaging, physical therapy and occupational therapy — we are now able to treat patients with world-class care, provide unmatched assistance to caregivers, and conduct medical trials on the latest drugs, medical devices and therapies. All of this could only have been made possible through the generous contributions of our donors.
Prevention and early diagnosis is our major goal, and we have made great strides in being able to identify people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease. What is important for readers to know is that nearly 50 percent of the early onset of the disease is attributable to possibly controllable issues, such as diabetes, hypertension, diet and exercise.
Thanks to new brain imaging techniques and spinal fluid tests, we are revolutionizing the way we diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, allowing us to identify the disorder in mild symptoms and seeing changes in the brains of people who may be at risk.
Early diagnosis makes it possible for patients to participate in crucial life decisions before their intellect has declined or their judgment is compromised, and also allows families to understand the changes they observe in a spouse or parent, to participate in counseling, and to plan for their future.
There are 5.3 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease — including nearly 30,000 in Nevada. The national number is estimated to reach 16 million by 2050 and unless there is a powerful treatment, Alzheimer’s disease will bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid. Worldwide there are 35 million with Alzheimer’s and by 2050 there could be as many as 100 million cases. New treatments discovered at the Ruvo Center can save millions of lives and minds.
In addition to grants and donations, patients themselves can help find treatments for Alzheimer’s by participating in clinical trials, like those that we are conducting at the Center. The cure is our goal. If we can find a therapy or drug that delays the onset of the disease by just five years, we would reduce the prevalence by 50 percent, and a 10-year delay would greatly reduce the frequency and impact of Alzheimer’s on families and on the society.
We believe we must have more research, more equipment, more laboratories, more centers and more young scientists focusing on Alzheimer’s research. We would appreciate your continued support of Keep Memory Alive and ask that you visit our website at keepmemoryalive.org or call us at 263-9797 for more information.
Larry Ruvo is founder of Keep Memory Alive. In 1994 his father, Lou Ruvo, passed away from Alzheimer’s and two years later, with a group of friends and supporters, Larry formed the Keep Memory Alive Foundation. Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, named director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in the past year, is ranked among the top 10 Alzheimer’s researchers in the world.