Retired...or ReWired? Episode 17: The Centers for Disease Control Brain Health Program

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Fri, 07/20/2018 - 11:30am to 12:00pm
The federal government tracks dementia and offers some recommendations on brain health.

17.  Center for Disease Control ---Healthy Brain Initiative

Dr. Lisa McGuire

Dr. Lisa McGuire is the Epidemiology and Surveillance Team Leader in the Obesity Prevention and Control Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. McGuire earned a Ph.D. in Lifespan Developmental Psychology from Bowling Green State University and completed a National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Gerontology Center at The Pennsylvania State University. She joined CDC in 2004 after serving as a college professor for 10 years. Dr. McGuire has published over 75 articles and book chapters on aspects of chronic health conditions, cognition, disability, caregiving, and aging. Dr. McGuire is on the Editorial Board of The Gerontologist, and Fellows of Division 20 of the American Psychological Association and the Gerontological Society of America.

The role of public health in enhancing the physical health of older adults is well-known. Public health’s role in maintaining cognitive health, a vital part of healthy aging and quality of life, is emerging. The need for a clearly delineated public health role comes at a critical time given the dramatic aging of the U.S. population, scientific advancements in knowledge about risk behaviors (e.g., lack of physical activity, uncontrolled high blood pressure) related to cognitive decline, and the growing awareness of the significant health, social, and economic burdens associated with cognitive decline. 

CDC’s Healthy Aging Program used a comprehensive approach to develop a set of questions for use in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to assess and monitor self-reported cognitive decline.


These are the questions we discussed:

The CDC “Roadmap” (2007) states that Alzheimer’s is increasing in the US.   Why is that?

Is it still true, in 2018?

What’s the scope of this illness in the US?

At what point does “cognitive decline” become dementia?

What’s the difference between dementia and senility?

What does the term “healthy aging” mean as it applies to the brain?

How do you measure it?

Are there exercises we can use to promote healthy brain aging?

Is there treatment for Alzheimers?

Do you do any clinical trials at CDC in Atlanta?

What is the “Cognitive Decline Module?”  What does it mean that there’s a self-reporting system on behavior?  Can we monitor our own behavior to check our cognitive health?

On the website there’s a reference to a BRFSS “Caregiver Module.”  How does that work?  Are care-givers using it?

Can non-care-givers use it to assess family situations?

Does the CDC partner with entities in Portland or elsewhere in Oregon?  We have a “Healthy Brain Institute” here in Portland, at Oregon Hospital State University.  Do you work with that group?

What are the expected outcomes of the program, and what is the timeline for achieving them?

What’s the prognosis for the treatment of Alzheimers and brain aging in general? Can we expect breakthroughs in medications and treatments?






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