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Dr. Karen Sullivan: Brain Health and You

A graphic from Dr. Karen Sullivan's I Care For Your Brain lecture series

The health industry’s latest buzz topic: brain health.

1,037 recently surveyed older Americans said memory loss is their greatest fear. This possibility outranked their fear of snakes, being buried alive, and terrorist attacks.

Not surprisingly, fear of memory loss has created a ripe opportunity for marketers. In 2014, 74 doctors and scientists from around the world wrote an open letter to companies marketing “brain products.” They stated that they are taking advantage of customers “by making exaggerated and misleading claims that are not based on sound scientific evidence.”

Notably, this inspired Dr. Karen Sullivan, PhD, ABPP, to create the “I Care For Your Brain with Dr. Sullivan” program.

“I have serious concerns about the so-called ‘brain fitness’ industry,” Dr. Sullivan says. She includes supplements, computer games, and phone apps in her statement. “Many of these promise to improve brain functioning and even prevent or reverse brain diseases, like dementia,” Dr. Sullivan adds. She says that it is well known in scientific circles that the products do very little to help consumers. Instead, they “empty wallets to the tune of $8-10 billion annually. I knew I had a responsibility to offer something better.”

Almost right away, Dr. Sullivan’s goal became developing a brain health program based entirely in science. Importantly, it would motivate older adults to make changes that⁠ really improve brain health.

Lecture Series Coming to The Forest

Monthly “I Care For Your Brain” lectures begin at The Forest on January 17th and continue through September.

Altogether, the program focuses on nine topics about the brain. Science shows that each one of these topics contributes to successful aging. Dr. Sullivan gives her lectures in two parts. First, she provides high quality scientific information on the subject at hand. In conclusion, she gives evidence based recommendations. This wisdom is something program attendees can begin using right away.

“My goal is to empower older adults to truly improve their brain health at little or no cost,” Dr. Sullivan says.

Award-winning program

LeadingAge North Carolina presented its Excellence in Collaboration award to Dr. Sullivan’s program in May 2017. The Raleigh-based nonprofit, which represents 69 senior living communities, recognized the impact of “I Care For Your Brain.”

Prior to opening her neuropsychology practice in Pinehurst, Dr. Sullivan completed her formal education and training at Boston University and Harvard Medical School. She then completed her assistant professorship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine. Dr. Sullivan draws from her personal experiences. She has been a caregiver, nursing assistant, and therapeutic companion. Additionally, she has served as an activities director and co-director of an adult day health program.

Dr. Sullivan is determined to provide older adults with information that will make them more informed consumers of brain science. Her series also seeks to empower her program participants in advocating for their own brain health.

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