TODAY | September 04, 2013
>> let's bring in nbc's special an to maria shriver into the conversation. she lost her father to the disease in 2011 . what's the question families ask you most as someone that's been an activist for this disease.
>> they come up with two questions. they have a parent that has it, what do i do? where do i go? how do i find support groups? or how do i make sure i'm not going to get snit it? do i eat nuts? do i play crossword puzzles .
>> your daughter sends you a game every day because she is so worried about the genetic possibility that you could have it.
>> this is the big story coming out this week. this is our children's disease. this isn't something happening to 80 and 90-year-olds only. it's happening to people that are 50 and 60. boomers, young people like my daughter, who is actually here. she has signed me up and i'm slower than her on the game.
>> you're supposed to be.
>> but this is so important because you're right. we put it as sort of it only happens to old people but we know it happens during your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s -- it precedes what you're going to see.
>> do the brain games work? do they help?
>> i'm a big believer that they can't hurt.
>> i'm moving up.
>> so it's working but all my kids are like are you still trying to figure out what 12 plus 8 is minus --
>> a lot of people think there is research and ucla is doing a lot of work looking at this thing. but increasingly we have to look at brain health the way we looked at heart health. we think nothing about talking about our bio markers for heart but not in brain.
>> whatever is good for your heart, the blood in your heart goes into your brain and people have to kind of stop being scared to ask their primary physicians about their brain, about their memory. we have to get much more vocal. we have to get much more forceful and turn up the heat on this disease and the activism around it.
>> we solicited questions from our viewers on facebook. nancy, this will go to you. sherry on facebook writes my mom has dementia. what's the difference between dementia and alzheimer 's and can it be passed on to me?
>> alzheimer 's is a subset of dementia. dementia can be all kinds of things. but alzheimer 's is a special kind of dementia and the genetics in the family may tell you that you are at risk. the question will be can you overjump your jeans? and i think increasingly as research moves forward the answer will be yes.
>> we have a question from our plaza. kooechb, what's your question?
>> what is the average age when you begin to see warning signs of alzheimer 's?
>> when did you start to see it in your father?
>> a good question. they say alzheimer 's exists before it's diagnosed. 20 years in the brain before you actually begin to even see signs of it. so i think that there were a couple of years before he was officially diagnosed my brothers would say did you notice that or notice that? we had our own shame and embarrassment and we didn't want to embarrass him but we have come a long way. so i think now people, kid who is are in their 20s and 30s notice things about their parents or spouses notice and they go in right away and get early diagnosis and get their house in in order and start getting into trials.
>> i went to an alzheimer 's meeting a couple of years ago and i was stunned. it reminded me of where the cancer meetings were. you wouldn't say it on the "today" show. it was out of the closet and people need to own it. it's optimistic.
>> you'll be here the rest of the week. with we look forward to hearing you tomorrow and friday. you can get on twitter this morning