Good afternoon, I’m Lynn Posluns founder and chair of Women’s Brain Health Initiative, the only organization solely dedicated to protecting the brain health of women. Today, I’m going to be talking about knowledge translation and exchange within the context of the activities carried out by the Women’s Brain Health Initiative, a Canadian charity that I launched in 2012, to support innovative research that explores why and how brain aging diseases disproportionately affect women. As an example of that support, we created a fund, the world’s research chair in Women’s brain health and aging, which as most of you know is awarded to Dr. Gillian Einstein at the University of Toronto. Her work, we hope, will provide cues as to why women develop Alzheimer’s disease twice as much as men, and perhaps move us a step closer to that ultimate goal, a cure.
We were also instrumental in creating the CCNA sex and gender cross cutting theme to ensure that the Canadian scientific community takes sex and gender into account in all aspects of neurodegenerative disease study. In addition to supporting this research, we felt it was equally important to share the findings to the general public and do this through our knowledge exchange and translation programs.
With no known cure though, and with the population aging, it’s not a surprise that Alzheimer’s has moved ahead of cancer as the most feared disease. Although new treatments for Dementia may be on the horizon, prevention methods are already here. And whether the discoveries are made by researchers that we fund or not, good science needs to be shared. Not just with other researchers, but also with the general public in ways that can be easily understood.
There is increasing evidence that our lifestyle choices or the modifiable risk factors that we can control, can help reduce our risk to cognitive decline. Staying mentally, socially and physically active, eating and sleeping well, and managing our stress, all help to ward off age-related cognitive decline. Treating diabetes and cholesterol, addressing hearing loss, only consuming a moderate amount of alcohol, and not smoking, all help to reduce our risk. Genetics alone are not enough to tip the scale towards Alzheimer’s and according to the esteemed Lancet commission, ⅓ of all cases of Dementia can be avoided by modifying our lifestyle choices.
Knowing that we can take steps today to prevent cognitive decline in the future, is an empowering message for people who want to control their health. Women’s Brain Health Initiative identified a gap in the availability in this type of reliable information, and the implications of the most current scientific findings.
To fill the void, we create unique preventative health education programs grounded in science in order to give the public the greatest understanding in the best ways to prolong cognitive vitality, while highlighting an increase for women.
Through it’s [inaudible] knowledge translation and exchange programs, we are shifting the way society uses the [inaudible] brain health, moving the focus upstream to create a culture of brain health, so that we can spend more years living productively and independently.
Knowledge is a powerful and effective enabler. Our preventative health education programs help move the research into action. In addition to speaking engagements, where we present information, and because a picture is worth a thousand words, we use imagery to reflectively reflect what is being said, similar to what I’ve been using here today, and there are a number of other successful ways to communicate the knowledge that we’ve accumulated.
Mind over matter is a high-quality magazine containing evidence-based, easy to understand articles, distributed to 5000 households across Canada through the globe and mail and Toronto star, to doctor offices nationally, and during our speaking engagements at global events and symposiums. Produced in both English and French, mind over matter is also available online.
The response to the magazine has been overwhelming, here are just a few of the comments:
-“Could you please send me three more copies, I’m an associate director of an Anglican church and know my health and wellness ministry team would appreciate this material for our health care forum.”
-“I told my own health care professional how impressed I was with the thoroughness of this material, and I will give her a copy”
-“As a nursing graduate of U of T, a licensed clinical psychologist, and a leader for health, body, and spirit, i thank you and commend your team for their excellent offering”
-“I appreciate mind over matter in the globe and mail, and I wanted to get more copies to share with the group of women i meet with. 5 of us women, average age 77, meet together regularly to put together our advanced health care plans. We discuss all areas of healthy aging, and I think having copies of your magazine for everyone would be most helpful. Please send me 4 more copies”
-“I am so grateful that the magazine arrived with the globe, it could not have been timelier, and i wanted to say the information is fantastic throughout the magazine. I’m curious how to get a copy to my dad who lives in Burlington Ontario. My mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the last 2 weeks I've noticed a frightening decline. He lives alone with her in their home, he is 89 and she is 85. I’m wondering if you can mail them a copy, I live in Calgary, and don’t want to give mine up.”
The demand was so high for additional copies, that thanks to our partner Brain Canada, remote community and special interest groups can receive their own copies of mind over matter, free of charge, through our book and social program. We’ve also brought two copies that you can take a look at, and in the orange copy you’ll see interviews that we had with Dr. Einstein and her scientists.
The next edition will be coming out in May and will include some of the sex and gender findings in this CCNA.
With increasing evidence that we eat impacts the health of our brain, a website filled with delicious recipes, superfoods and tips to give our brain functioning in the way that we want was created called Memory Morsels, and was supported by several social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Knowing that the earlier that you start to engage in healthy lifestyle choices, the stronger the protective effects will be, the Women’s Brain Health Initiative created a series of events for millennials by millennials. Each of it focuses for the best way for those under 40 to maintain their cognitive health.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is that on steroids.
The next series is starting on January 14th with a session on Art therapy. Recognizing that our body systems are interconnected, that early warning signs and risks for women are often different than that for a man, and that preventative measures are similar across disease states, we host panel discussions with leading experts in women’s brain health, heart and stroke, and cancers. Here are some highlights from our recent healthy bodies and minds events.
Women’s Brain Health Initiative also produces engaging educational events and experiences that have a combination of education and entertainment, including our annual signature “from her lips to her ears” event, showcasing interesting and informative conversations with inspiring advocates for women’s brain health.
The last number’s series included one from Gina Brown, one from Marsha Gay Harden, and one from Kim Campbell, wife of the late musician Glenn Campbell.
Our next event features Gen Arden on March 31st in Toronto.
Women’s Brain Health Initiative is also a U.S registered charity, and we’ve hosted in a number of high-profile entertainment events in the U.S as well, so I’m just going to show you this video quickly.
So, while Women’s Brain Health Initiative invested research defined answers for our daughters and granddaughters, we also focus on taking the research findings to the general public, to help ourselves and our loved ones.
Dementia is devastating and frightening. But knowledge counters fear. We will continue to pursue novel and inspiring channels for getting good information into the hearts and minds of the public.