The Memory Hub is a new Seattle community center for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s

Jun 29, 2022, 5:45 AM | Updated: 9:37 am
(Photo courtesy of Elderwise) Participants enjoy conversation and creative arts at the Elderwise ad...
(Photo courtesy of Elderwise) Participants enjoy conversation and creative arts at the Elderwise adult day program.
(Photo courtesy of Elderwise)

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and although there is still so little we know about dementia, progress is being made and there are new resources right here in Seattle.

Let’s start with the first-ever Alzheimer’s drug, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last summer.

“While not a cure, this new drug is the first FDA-approved treatment that has been shown to reduce the defining brain changes of Alzheimer’s, those amyloid plaques,” said Dr. Maria Carillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association. “That means people could have more time to participate actively in their daily life, more independently, and hold on to memories longer. Having more time at these earliest stages, in a progressive and fatal disease like Alzheimer’s, that actually, at the end stage, robs you of even your personhood, this is so important.”

Carillo says there are currently three other drugs in the pipeline awaiting FDA approval.

A recent study reports that 40% of what causes Alzheimer’s or dementia is likely dictated by lifestyle, so the Alzheimer’s Association is preparing to launch a two-year, $100 million study to look at four factors.

“The first is monitoring your heart health,” said Carillo. “If you have heart disease, you increase your risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, by threefold. Cardiovascular diseases interfere with blood flow, so they’re going to interfere with allowing nutrition to optimally reach the brain, allowing the toxins to be optimally removed. The second, maintain yourself physically active. The third is to ensure that you have the appropriate nutrition, not only for your heart but for your brain. The fourth is that you participate in what we’re calling cognitive engagement. Keeping your brain active, not just your body.”

At the end of March, The Memory Hub opened in Seattle, on the Frye Art Museum campus.

“The types of programs you might see at a senior center but really tailored toward the strengths and the needs for people with memory loss and their families,” said Marigrace Becker, director of The Memory Hub.

The Memory Hub is operated by the University of Washington Memory and Brain Wellness Center, but four other organizations offer on-site programs, making it a one-stop-shop for those with dementia and their families and caretakers.

“Is there anything else like this? I want to say no!” said Becker. “We like to think of ourselves as on the leading edge of opportunities for people with memory loss, and [a place where] their family members can connect and be supported and engaged in a welcoming community space.”

Longtime Seattle non-profit, Elderwise, is leading an adult day program at the center.

“The persons with memory loss are engaged with conversation, gentle exercise, watercolor painting or other arts,” said Becker. “They may also be going out and enjoying our outdoor memory garden space.”

Nonprofit Full life Care is there to provide caregiver support and education, for both professionals and family members.

“They have a six-week caregiver education program, as well as individualized coaching,” said Becker.

More than six million Americans over the age of 65 are living with various forms of dementia.

“Here in Washington, there are over 100,000 people who live with dementia and another 300,000 family caregivers,” said Becker. “Here in King County, the numbers are hovering around 30,000 people with memory loss or dementia, so that’s a lot.”

The programs at The Memory Hub are free and open to the community. They will continue to expand their offerings, adding programs like Alzheimer’s Café, a popular social event that shut down when the pandemic started.

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The Memory Hub is a new Seattle community center for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s