Published on Cleveland.com, July 2, 2021
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — Kemper House Residential Alzheimer’s and Dementia homes have cared for and supported Clevelanders impacted by dementia for over 20 years. In recent years, Kemper has set its sights on prevention and pushing back against cognitive loss.
“My mom and I started Kemper Cognitive Wellness at a time when studies were beginning to indicate effective strategies to push back against cognitive decline,” says Kristin Kemper West, LNHA, president of Kemper Cognitive Wellness and vice president of Kemper House.
“My family has been impacted by the devastation of Alzheimer’s for generations,” she said.
Today, Kristin cares for her father at Kemper House.
“With these advances, I thought, ‘Finally, there is hope in this fight — hope for me and my siblings and for my kids.’ I dream of a day when Kemper House becomes obsolete because we have solved this Alzheimer’s epidemic.”
In 2019, Dr. Nate Bergman joined Kemper Cognitive Wellness as chief scientific wellness officer. Together with a multidisciplinary team, Bergman uses precision medicine to identify drivers of disease and applies personalized programs to treat symptoms at their source.
“We are seeing firsthand, in our clinic, that Alzheimer’s is often treatable,” he said.
The key, he notes, is to act early. Seek out a diagnosis as soon as you notice symptoms. If you have a family history, don’t wait for symptoms — “a proactive stance is your best bet.”
Today, Kemper Cognitive Wellness is treating children of current and former Kemper House residents.
“Alzheimer’s can be genetic, but genetics are not necessarily your destiny,” says Bergman. The science of epigenetics demonstrates that lifestyle choices we make can turn on or off certain genes.
“With the right information and plan, it’s possible to have two copies of the APOe4 gene and live a long, healthy life with minimal symptoms or even no symptoms at all,” he said.
The recent FDA-accelerated approval of the drug Aducanumab has brought more attention to a significant aspect of fighting cognitive loss: Seek out a diagnosis early — as soon as symptoms are present — for greater opportunities to push back, halt or delay progression. Aducanumab may slow decline in those in early stages of dementia.
Aducanumab is the first drug to target one of the underlying drivers of Alzheimer’s disease — the buildup of toxic amyloid beta protein clumps in the brain. It was created by chemists to mimic aspects of the human immune system to find, stick to and dissolve amyloid beta clumps in the brain, effectively reducing the total number of clumps present.
Delivered by intravenous infusion monthly, Aducanumab comes with a hefty price tag ($4,312 per infusion) and a number of manageable side effects.
Bergman notes: “I’m cautiously optimistic about the incremental improvement that Aducanumab may bring to some people in early stages of Alzheimer’s. What seems evident is that higher doses of Aducanumab may slow down cognitive decline to some extent in individuals with mild symptoms.”
For those who are proactive about their brain health or concerned about cognitive decline, Kemper Cognitive Wellness’ comprehensive assessments and personalized protocols are available for a fraction of the cost of Aducanumab.
Kemper House is locally owned and operated by the Kemper family, lifelong residents of the Cleveland area. Kemper House values the uniqueness of each resident, celebrates their individual abilities, and fosters personal dignity. Kemper House is located in Strongsville and Highland Heights. Go to www.kemperhouse.com for more information.
Kemper Cognitive Wellness is among the nation’s leading brain health centers for prevention, testing, services, and support for Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Led by Bergman, the robust team of clinicians at Kemper combines functional and conventional medicine with personalized care to consider the entire person and address symptoms at the source, effectively pushing back against cognitive decline. Kemper Cognitive Wellness is located in Rocky River. Go to www.kemperwellness.com