Last week proved jam-packed with brain activation. The 2-day Dementia Friendly Nevada Summit launched learning; the Brain Health gathering here in Winnemucca continued it. Here are some highlights.

The Summit included stakeholders throughout Nevada. Proudly Winnemucca had 9 wise voices for advancing ideas, a real opportunity to accentuate the work we are doing rurally. I could write at length, but instead I’ll hit my two hot topics and offer to send you notes, flyers, and other information from our session. First, we constantly focused on the positive. No whining and griping, just suggestions and possibilities to make our community and state dementia inclusive. ADF-Winnemucca’s vision encompasses key actions that the group also folded into a song. Living here means everything is accessible and that all goals are achievable; we know that everything is possible as we step up to the plate and advocate. We’ve developed a plan, hope you’ll lend a hand, because together we can take a stand for dementia inclusivity. You can watch the ensemble on our website: www.adf-winnemucca.com

My second takeaway came from Dr. Artz of Renown. He explained how when we go to the doctor, vital signs are noted. Many people continue this practice at home. Why are we not more aware of cognitive vital signs? Why aren’t we checking on these? ADF is putting together a flyer/poster to promote this checkup with points such as watching nutritional intake, exercising daily, activating brain cells, engaging socially, mentally, and physically in things you love, resting, de-stressing, and evaluating your meds. What might you add to our list? Having been ill recently, upon recovery I realized my mind had jilted out of sync. I observed gaps in memory, overwhelming exhaustion, stress, and sleeplessness. No wonder my accomplishments slipped – my brain had, too.

On to our Brain Health Conference… Lynn and I arrived early for setup to discover technical glitches would reign the day. My laptop wouldn’t connect to internet, whirling balloons filled the screen where Power Points and Zoom should have materialized. Fortunately, technicians worked diligently to rectify the mess while attendees endured the pain of, well, technical glitches.

A video from Senator Rosen wishing us well and her representative Molly Rose Lewis set the stage for upcoming dementia friendly legislation, Casey Acklin of UNR and Nevada DEER arrived next. While it appeared he would fare well, things crashed which offered him the chance to entertain the crowd with ingenuity-loaded info. When Power Pt resumed he continued with positive awareness, the value of collaboration and community engagement, inclusion and self-advocacy for those living with dementia, and stigma-busting, creative efforts to create an all-inclusive Nevada.

Cathy Maupin, Alzheimer’s Association representative, followed with ideas for planning finances and managing challenging, long-term care trials. Being calm, honest, moving slowly, and constructing back-up plans are essential. Next, Allison Stephens arrived via Zoom (virtually glitch-free) to discuss the effects of diabetes on the brain. With restricted blood flow (check those vitals) accompanied by sugar- and fast-food-loaded eating habits in the American diet, diabetes has risen to the #7 cause of death in our country. She explained that type 1 diabetes results from a lack of insulin; type 2 arises from the body’s inability to use insulin properly. Her strongest recommendation: exercise – you’ve heard that before and now it comes again. “Find a way you like to move and do it!”

College friend Gina Phelps discussed trauma and its effects on occupations, and well-being. She regaled us with activities including aroma testing and reducing inappropriate behaviors through hearing, seeing, touching, and smelling – using our senses to ground us in the present; developing new methods to communicate and express feelings to de-escalate behaviors. Rae Edwards guided us through relaxation techniques which lead us to lunch assembled by Ian Tolotti of BGC.

Analysis of Us by Andrew Gerenraich of HGH examined the differences in a variety of neuroimaging practices (MRI, CT, PET) and what each might reveal. He discussed current medication for Alzheimer’s and its efficacy (or lack thereof) and emphasized the importance of recognizing how some medications do reduce agitation while others may actually worsen dementia. Massey Mayo rounded out the day with an overview (“I’m not your lawyer”) of estate planning basics. As we all know, thinking and acting on potentialities now prevents future distress and misunderstanding. If you want your expectations after death to be met, get it in writing now.

A wonderful day, writing even took my mind off the technical interference, and all attendees left with knowledge.