Seniors’ Column

This week's column looks at Alzheimer's disease how to understand it.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada is the leading nationwide health charity intended as a support for persons living with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia.

The Society offers information and educational programs for persons experiencing dementia, their families and caregivers. A registered charitable organization, it promotes public education and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to ensure that members of the public will know where they can turn for help.

In B.C., the Alzheimer’s Society estimates that about 70,000 persons are living with this disease. The Society has been dedicating its focus toward providing help since 1978 and continues to offer a range of counselling and support groups which provide a safe place to share information, feelings and experiences, both for persons who are dealing with the disease, as well as their caregivers.

Clinical trials are currently underway, aimed at identifying ways to prevent the condition and treat persons who are living with the condition. Therapeutic techniques such as physical activity and music are known to be viable and are useful as part of the treatment programs.

Research shows that the quality of life of person with Alzheimer’s disease and also their caregivers, is significantly improved through activities which emphasize the patient’s strengths and abilities. By understanding the personality, life experiences, support systems and ways of coping, a person-centred approach to care can help to preserve and also improve quality of life.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease is known to be fatal at the present time, affecting all aspects of a person’s life such as how they think, feel and act. The ability to make decisions will be reduced and simple tasks that have been performed for years previously, will become more difficult or even forgotten. Confusions and memory loss intended for recent events and eventually for long-term occasions will occur.

Changes in the brain due to Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia often appears to us as changes in the persons’s behaviour. Caregivers who attend the various educational workshops which are held under the auspices of the Society, can learn how to understand certain behaviour as being a form of communication.

Participants will have the opportunity to explore strategies for determining what the person with dementia might be trying to communicate, as well as finding ways to decrease the occurrences of behaviours which concern us. We can learn to respond in supportive ways.

For more details, contact Julie Leffelaar at 250-265-4077.


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