Did you know that someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease every 66 seconds?

Or that more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and the number could hit 14 million by 2050?

Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, one of the world’s top Alzheimer’s researchers, aims to cut those statistics short.

As a prelude to Scottsdale Arts’ new program, Memory Lounge, for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partners, Sabbagh will give a free talk, Alzheimer’s Dementia: Present and Future, on Sept. 22 at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. He will explain symptoms of the disease and how it compares with other forms of dementia, and describe the latest clinical trials and hopes for new treatment.   

“Changes in the brain start 20 to 25 years before the first day of forgetfulness so the dementia is actually the end of the disease, not the beginning of it,” Sabbagh, a neurologist and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Division at Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, said in an interview with 3TV/CBS 5. 

He noted that “real progress” is being made in the treatment of the disease and that, “I expect to be stopping the disease or slowing it down within three years…I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been.”

Among other topics, Sabbagh will discuss the debate regarding the effectiveness of some brain exercises on the disease and share information on preventative measures against Alzheimer’s. He also will encourage both healthy people and those needing treatment to consider participating in clinical trials underway at his clinic.  

“Significant advances have been made in the abilities for doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s dementia, including the use of biomarkers to increase confidence,” Sabbagh said. “There are many breakthroughs on the horizon for treating Alzheimer’s disease that will change the disease from a terminal disease to a chronic disease in the very near future.”

Sabbagh is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders, Current Alzheimer’s Research, American Journal of Alzheimer’s and Dementia and BMC Neurology. He has authored and co-authored more than 250 medical and scientific articles on Alzheimer’s research. Sabbagh wrote the book, The Alzheimer’s Answer, with a forward by Sandra Day O’Connor, retired associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. With Beau MacMillan, executive chef at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, he wrote The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Boost Brain Health.

Memory Lounge is a new program being offered this year by Scottsdale Arts’ Education & Outreach Department. Beginning in October, the series will feature artist-led workshops and museum tours, with light appetizers. Each workshop will focus on a specific arts discipline, including visual arts, music, dance, poetry, drama and more. The goal is to provide an enjoyable, social outing that fosters living in the moment while engaging in the arts.

Studies have shown that the arts promote mental and physical well-being, and that those who engage in the arts at any age show improved critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills. 

Starting off the first Memory Lounge series will be flutist Samité, an internationally known musician who was featured in the film Alive Inside, an award-winning documentary on the power of music to awaken the memories locked away in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  He travels the world bringing his message of peace and hope through the healing power of music.