Feed Your Brain


Memory Matters has come a long way since it was founded in 1997 to support the Lowcountry caregivers of people diagnosed with dementia. 

After years of a nomadic existence, in 2009 the nonprofit group moved into a 7,000-square-foot facility licensed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to care for up to 60 participants daily. 

In 2018, Memory Matters expanded its vision to “encompass everyone, brain-healthy or brain-compromised” and “proactively tackle memory loss by encouraging early intervention and promoting a healthy lifestyle.” 

“Truly, being healthy does not have to be difficult.” 


MEMORY MATTERS2With that in mind, that year the organization held its inaugural Brain Health Summit, drawing 300 participants; in 2019, 450 attended the summit. This year’s Brain Health Summit is slated for March 11 and will feature a lineup of experts on nutrition, exercise, art and more. 

“This is for anyone who is interested in proactively caring for their brain and learning new things,” said Debbie Anderson, community education director for Memory Matters. “And we make it fun in the process.” 

Wendy Suzuki, professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at New York University’s Center for Neural Science and author of “Healthy Brain, Happy Life,” will give the keynote address. Other speakers include registered dietician Holly Mlodzinski, who also is the health promotions coordinator for Hilton Head Regional Healthcare, and Ashton Sullivan of Whole Health Bluffton, who will talk about “Your Brain on Art.” 

“A lot of times people think it’s overwhelming to eat a healthy diet,” Mlodzinski says. “But truly, being healthy does not have to be difficult. We’re trying to make it easy for everybody.” 

Experts are increasingly promoting brain-health strategies to delay or even potentially stave off dementia — which encompasses a set of symptoms, often associated with aging, like impaired memory and thinking; Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, causing an estimated 50% to 70% of cases. 

London-trained chef Kim Baretta, the volunteer chef-in-residence for Memory Matters, will host a live culinary competition at the summit similar to the TV show “Chopped.” Three conference participants will come onstage to prepare healthy main courses, which will be judged by three local chefs. Baretta and Memory Matters promote a “Mediterranean lifestyle” diet as a tool to proactively tackle memory loss and tout a “70:30 rule”: Vegetables and whole grains should cover 70 percent of your plate, while proteins should make up the remaining 30 percent.

“Everyone has been touched by Alzheimer’s or dementia in some way,” Baretta said. “It’s true there is no cure for it. But we know that lifestyle choices can help prolong or delay, or even help us not get the disease.” 


What: Memory Matters’ Brain Health Summit 3
When: 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. March 11
Where: Hilton Head Beach & Tennis Resort
Cost: $60, which includes lunch and wellness package drawing
Details: www.mymemorymatters.org or 843-842-6688