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Optimistic update on Alzheimer’s with dancing

Two kids who helped take care of their grandmother with Alzheimer’s. An Israeli researcher measuring brain activity to predict a decline.

Nearly 700 supporters attended the sixth annual Brain Bowl for Alzheimer’s & Dementia Friday in Boca West.

Most of Boca’s major benefactors were there to join founder Pam Higer-Polani’s push to find a cure.

Dr. Oded Meiron discovered a way to stimulate the brain to enhance memory and function. He talked about his work at Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem that includes dementia and Parkinson’s patients.

Charlie and A.J. Poole were in elementary school when their grandmother came to live with them. They took turns reliving the experience over two years. “Disturbances started at night. She would break things. Scream. Turn on the stove and throw flammable things. It was like taking care of an angry toddler.”

Their friends stopped coming over. No one at school cared. It affected their grades. Now teens, they consider themselves lucky they had their parents. “It taught us empathy,” they said.

The brothers came in from Virginia courtesy of the American Association of Caregiving Youth based here and founded by Connie Siskowski. “There are over 1.4 million child caregivers in the U.S.,” they said. “England has programs for them, but not here.”

It’s hard not to make the subject a downer. But not in Higer-Polani’s hands. “I always like to end on a high note,” she said, before inviting Dance for Life’s Scott Lappin to lead the chicken dance.

The event was a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Community Care, Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center at FAU and the south Florida Alzheimer’s Association.

Ina Trueheart chaired and Brandi Abrahams co-chaired a 38-member committee to put the event together. Among the members were Arlene Herson, Marcia Berns, Kim Champion, Sue Heller, Bonnie Hildebrand and Cheryl Van Hare.  There were 56 sponsors.  CBS12 weatherman Chris Farrell emceed and Pamela Cohen sang the National Anthem.

By Marci Shatzman

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