In January 2013, CHUV inaugurated the Leenaards Memory Centre-CHUV, a true reference point for Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive disorders related to old age. Interview with its director, internationally renowned French neurologist Pr Jean-François Démonet.
Why is there a Memory Centre at CHUV ?
Dementia and memory impairment in the elderly constitute a real "silent epidemic". 5,000 new cases are expected to be announced in the near future in the Canton de Vaud. With an aging population, these disorders are becoming more common and costly, since we can be live with disease for longer. Obviously there is also a huge emotional pain.
Given the scale of these diseases, the Department of Health and Social Action of the canton of Vaud has decided to create a network of four Memory Centers, including the Leenaards Memory Centre-CHUV (CLM), in the context of the cantonal program on Alzheimer.
The objective of the CLM is to coordinate the activities of the network by playing a real role of reference and center of innovation.
What types of problems are addressed ?
The Centre mainly deals with disorders of higher brain functions: not only memory, but also those of language or the ability to make judgments. If Alzheimer's disease is a problem in itself, representing 50% of the cases of dementia, Parkinson's disease is also addressed, as well as frontal dementia (characterized by sociopathy) that affect younger patients. CLM also focuses on vascular dementia, linked to the accumulation of small strokes in the brain. The older we get, the more likely it is to accumulate these lesions. All the effort of the Centre aims to improve care for patients and their families to prevent and alleviate the problems.
How does The Leenaards Memory Centre – CHUV function?
Supported by The Leenaards Foundation, the Center is multidisciplinary and cooperates with three Departments of CHUV: the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, the Department of Medicine (Geriatrics) and the University Service of Advanced Age Psychiatry.
The purpose of the center is threefold. First comes the medical care, which aims to improve the potential of the university centre as a centre of expertise, consultation and screening. Second axis: the training of young doctors, psychologists, nurses and social workers. Finally, the clinical research which is translational, meaning that it establishes links between research in biology and imaging and applies the fundamental knowledge for better diagnosis and treatment of patients.
What about prevention ?
The Leenaards Memory Centre – CHUV offers "brain check-ups" integrated within the cantonal action plan. We must not trivialize the warning signs.
From the age of 50, if people complain of their memory, it is advised to test it or make an MRI. The main purpose is to sensitize the general public, as people from disadvantaged backgrounds with limited access to education and subject to dietary deficiencies are more vulnerable to cognitive aging. It is known that the more time you spent in school, the more you will be protected against the disease, and the same goes for a healthy diet, such as those aimed at preventing diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol. Physical as well as intellectual activity also prevents the risk of pathological aging. We have a brain capital and we must protect and maintain it!