Dr. Ronald Petersen & Mike Hughbanks Article


Dr. Ronald Petersen, Ph.D., M.D. currently serves as the director of the Mayo Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. In 2011, Dr. Petersen was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to serve as chair of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research. He has authored over 800 articles on memory disorders, aging and Alzheimer’s disease and has edited five books.

To say that Dr. Petersen is a significant force in the fight for Alzheimer’s would be a gross understatement. It was my pleasure to spend a few minutes with him.


Dr. Petersen was in Omaha at UNMC speaking to a group of about 200, “How Early Can We Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease”. The lecture was part of the “Denham Harman, M.D., Ph.D. Lectureship in Biomedical Gerontology”.

Several news outlets were on hand for the lecture. The Omaha World Herald interviewed Dr. Petersen, Dr. Daniel Murman from UNMC (my doctor) and I. The shortcut to the article is below.


KETV, the Omaha ABC affiliate was also on hand, their web post is attached below.


Early detection used to be difficult. Using PET scans, MRI’s and spinal taps enable physicians to make earlier diagnoses. The benefits of early diagnosis are many. People can better prepare themselves for lies ahead. There are drug trials under way that they could participate in. Support groups are available for both the diagnosed and their families. There are medications that can help also.

In my case, detection early has enabled me to go on Aricept. Evidence is starting to show that many things we do every day could help with the impact and possible slow down the progression. They jury is still out but it looks promising. We are eating a heart healthy diet. We are experimenting with the Mediterranean diet. I also make smoothies for Debra and I. I will post a few of our favorite recipes for smoothies in a future post along with some favorite Mediterranean recipes.

Early detection also can be a wake up call to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Diet. According to the Centers For Disease Control’s National Center for Disease Statistics, our country suffers from being overweight or obese. The numbers are shocking and they are getting worse. Comparing 1962 to 2012, we are going the wrong direction.

Age-adjusted prevalence of overweight, obesity and extreme obesity
among adults aged 20-74 in the United States.
Survey Period Overweight Obese Extremely Obese
1960-1962 31.50% 13.40% 0.90%
2001-2002 34.40% 31.20% 5.40%
2011-2012 33.30% 35.30% 6.60%

Physical and mental activity. Staying physically active is very important. I think after diagnosis, people tend to withdraw physically, mentally, and emotionally which is not a healthy thing to do. There is evidence to show that we need to stay active physically and mentally. I realize I sound like a broken record, but this is really important. I try to walk 3 miles a day. I have a fitbit that tracks my steps, miles, stairs, and will show calories burned. Mental activity is important also. Dr. Petersen was clear to point out that he was not just talking about mind games. Staying alert and mentally active also means staying socially active and engaged.  Reading, keeping up with the news whether on TV or the internet. Mental tasks such as grocery lists or to do lists I find helpful. I try to challenge myself even though I know that I have deficits in the areas of multi-tasking and decision making.

These are just some of the reasons I think early detection is important. I have met people who are newly diagnosed that already have substantial deficits and I wish they had been diagnosed earlier. It is very important to seek medical advice if you are noticing any of the symptoms. Here is the shortcut to the Alzheimer’s Website for the 10 Warning Signs.



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