There are many resources for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease

Continuing with the education theme, September’s columns by Wendy Johnstone are going to focus on Alzheimer’s disease awareness and resources for family caregivers and those living with Alzheimer’s disease.

I want to thank everyone for their feedback regarding column topics.

I received a variety of suggestions including grief, respite and advocacy. Starting in October, the column will integrate readers’ suggestions.

Any time you wish to submit a suggestion, please e-mail them to me at info@keystoneeldercare.com.

Continuing with the education theme, September’s columns are going to focus on Alzheimer’s disease awareness and resources for family caregivers and those living with Alzheimer’s disease.

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.

Because we are in “back to school” mode, 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.

One tele-workshop being offered is Driving and Dementia on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. Go to www.alzheimerbc.org/We-Can-Help/Telephone-Workshops.aspx for more information and to register.

Also, a Family Caregiver Education workshop is being offered on Oct. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. in Campbell River.

The workshop provides an introduction to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as well as creative approaches to support loved ones with dementia. For more information or to register, call 1-800-462-2833, or e-mail jhope@alzheimerbc.org.

Come back in two weeks to read about supporting loved ones with dementia and what support groups are available in the Comox Valley.

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