Sandwich Generation: A lesson on Alzheimer’s

“What’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?”

Wendy Johnstone

Special to The Record

A lot of caregivers ask me, “What’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?”  Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to the many different types of dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for approximately 64 per cent of all cases in Canada.  Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, Pick’s Disease, Lewy-Body and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Did you KNOW?

• More than 70,000 British Columbians are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia – nearly 10,000 of these individuals are under the age of 65.

• 1 in 11 Canadians over the age of 65 (approximately 500,000 people) has Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

• In just five years, as many as 50 per cent more Canadians and their families could be facing Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

• As it stands today, the number of Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia will more than double within a generation (25 years).

• Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared disease for Canadians as they age.

• One in three Canadians (36 per cent) know someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

(For more facts and figures, please visit www.alzheimerbc.org/ and visit Disease Statistics).

There’s a general misconception that memory loss is “just a normal part of aging.”  Dementia is a progressive, degenerative disease that destroys vital brain cells.  It is not a normal part of aging.

As we age, we can expect that some aspects of cognition may decline including remembering people’s names, recounting facts and words, trying to remember where you put an object, the ability to multi-task and reaction time.

However, there are several areas that don’t necessarily decline with age including vocabulary, decision-making, creativity, ability to learn, being able to use language and processing and remembering new information.

Challenge yourself and take a quick test on how much you know about Alzheimer’s Disease.  You can find the survey at: www.alzheimer.ca/testyourknowledge/

The Alzheimer’s Society of BC offers some really good resources on their website as well as free workshops in local communities.  This Saturday, Oct. 3, there is a Family Caregiver Education workshop being offered at the Filberg Centre from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  You can call 250-338-1000 to reserve your spot at no charge.

 

 

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs regularly in the Comox Valley Record.