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How to Live to Prevent Alzheimer's

Dr. GarySmall
with Jane Rogers

Physical and Mental Exercise, Managing Stress and Eating Well Are Key

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Dr. Gary Small, former Director of UCLA’s Longevity Center and currently Behavioral Health Physician-in-Chief at Hackensack Meridian Health, believes lifestyle choices can eclipse genetics to stymie Alzheimer’s disease.

Genetics influences cognitive health, Dr. Small acknowledges, but physical and mental exercise, managing stress and eating well can counteract the disease as individuals age. Even if people are at genetic risk, their behavior and length of life will determine if they get the disease, he says.

Dr. Small is sanguine about the future, as studies show that lifestyle changes do lower the rate of contracting Alzheimer’s. The high hurdle to cross, he concedes, is motivating people — in a pill-dependent society — to live healthier lives.

“We've done studies of people who carry the APOE4 genetic risk. If they exercise more, they live a healthier lifestyle, they have less Alzheimer's in their brains.”
Dr. Gary Small

About Dr.Gary Small

Nationally renowned psychiatrist Gary W. Small, M.D., joined Hackensack Meridian Health as its Behavioral Health Physician-in-Chief on November 1, 2020. In this newly created position, Dr. Small oversees all professional and administrative activities within the behavioral health care transformation service at Hackensack Meridian Health, as well as serving as Chair of Psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center.

Prior to joining Hackensack Meridian Health, Dr. Small was a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, Parlow-Solomon professor on aging at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, and director of the UCLA Longevity Center.

Dr. Small is known nationally and internationally for his public work in promoting the practice of psychiatry and innovative research on brain health and aging. Dr. Small has authored more than 500 scientific publications as well as the international best-seller, The Memory Bible. Small’s research has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, London Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine, and Newsweek. He has also appeared as a frequent expert on television, including NBC’s The Today Show and on CNN and PBS. Small is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Jack Weinberg Award from the American Psychiatric Association and the senior investigator award from the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. Scientific American magazine also named Dr. Small one of the world’s top 50 innovators in science and technology in 2002.

Among his numerous duties within the network’s behavioral health services, Dr. Small oversees educational programs and training, is responsible for clinical operations in psychiatry and behavioral health, develops and expands research and academic programs and develops and maintains quality initiatives. He leads Hackensack Meridian Health’s recruiting efforts for physicians within the behavioral health field.


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