Having dementia presents challenges, but there are things you can do to manage the risks and still enjoy a healthy active lifestyle at home and in the community. It is sometimes hard to determine the level of risk as it can change from day to day and from minute to minute. It is important to understand some of the risks that can be associated with living with dementia. Examples of these risks include poor health, going missing, living in an unsafe environment and injury.
The Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex was founded by a group of volunteers in 1982, and they continue to be an integral part to enhancing the care we are able to deliver to families living with dementia. We currently have a team of over 240 active volunteers, and this year have decided to honour Joan Cox with our annual Jan Greene Award for Outstanding Volunteerism to celebrate her contributions to ASLM and the community.
A decrease in memory effectiveness is a normal part of aging, however when these memory issues are serious enough to interfere with everyday life it could be a sign of Mild Cognitive Impairment. ASLM offers a "Learning the ROPES For Living With MCI" program that helps to optimize cognitive health through lifestyle choices, memory training and psychosocial support.
The Cogniciti Brain Health Assessment, developed in 2014, is an online early-warning cognitive test that allows individuals to be proactive in managing their brain health. The test is geared towards adults aged 40-79 and is available for free at www.cogniciti.com.
Communication is an essential part of who we are as human beings; it’s something many of us take for granted. In terms of dementia, language and communication problems are well-recognized clinical components of the disease and are estimated to occur in almost all individuals living with it. Due to the gradual decline in language impairment, communication difficulties may lead to frustration, confusion and agitation for the individual and their caregivers. If the needs of the person with dementia (PWD) are not being met then their behaviour may be misunderstood and as a result, the PWD may begin to feel isolated due to an inability to communicate properly.
So it’s February and while the cold and dreary days seem to roll endlessly on, this month is known for more than just the winter slog we’re experiencing. February 14th is of course Valentine’s Day, a day to acknowledge affairs of the heart. But one day in February isn’t sufficiently long enough to consider ALL affairs of the heart. Which is why the entire month is designated as #HeartMonth . The month’s sustained focus gives new meaning to affairs of the heart, both from the perspective of the organ’s wellbeing and its vital connectedness to the health of the brain.
Stigma. What should be a general understanding and acceptance regarding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is, in reality, not that way at all. To help point a spotlight on this troubling misunderstanding, the Alzheimer Society has launched a social media campaign called #StillHere. The theme of this nation-wide campaign focuses on dispelling one of the many enduring myths of this disease by illustrating that life does not end when Alzheimer’s begins.
Each holiday season, many struggle with buying the perfect present for those they love. Will he be able to use this? Will she like this colour? Caregivers or loved ones of a person with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias might find themselves in similarly frustrating situations. Fortunately, there are many wonderful gift ideas for people with dementia that are both pleasurable and useful for the recipient.
Caregiving is often physically and emotionally stressful. In an effort to provide the best care possible, you might put your loved one's needs before your own. In turn, you could develop feelings of sadness, anger and loneliness. Sometimes, these emotions can trigger caregiver depression. It is not unusual for caregivers to develop depression as a result of the constant demands placed on them while providing care.
The concept of dementia has been acknowledged since the time of the early Egyptians and Greeks who wrote of their elders losing their memories. Alzheimer’s was not considered a disease and thus given a medical label until many centuries later (in 1910) as a result of the work of Dr. Alois Alzheimer. Today Alzheimer’s disease has become one of our most feared diseases; an illness that turns individuals to mere shadows of their former selves, severely impacts families and threatens to overwhelm our healthcare system. But what if this may not be true? Is it really a disease?
“The word ambiguous helped me understand what was going on. I’m still married to her, I love her but I don’t live with her. I’ve always been crazy about her and still am. She’s still looked after, but it is a huge loss for me. The ambiguity is exactly how I feel” - a male caregiver
“I thought this was a normal part of Alzheimer’s” – Glenda, Alzheimer Society client & caregiver for her husband One of the greatest misconceptions about old age is that the older you get the more confused you will become. Although your brain does age with the rest of your body, states such as severe confusion are not a part of healthy aging and should be further investigated and treated. Delirium and dementia are two causes of confusion in older adults
There has been a lot of media attention about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias lately. It goes to show just how many million lives dementia touches. It also goes to show that slowly, dementia is being talked about openly. While campaigns from local and regional Alzheimer Societies have helped bring dementia into the spotlight, to truly help people living with dementia get the care and support they are entitled to, we need a response from the collective society.
The long-awaited summertime season finally here. With it comes the anticipation of family trips, excursions with friends and (hopefully) plenty of time for sightseeing. For many individuals caring for someone with dementia however, vacations may seem out of the question as unfamiliar surroundings can trigger negative and even aggressive behaviours in the family member with the disease. Here are some suggestions for those traveling with someone with dementia, particularly if they are in the earlier stages, so that you can still enjoy all your summer travel plans with minimized stress.
The most important decision since diagnosis was joining the Alzheimer Society. The information and support have been amazing”- Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex client. Learning of a dementia diagnosis can be frightening and life altering. Caring for someone with dementia is physically and mentally exhausting. In either situation the fear, anger, frustration and isolation are just a few of the wide range of emotions you can experience. However the struggles you face are the same struggles others in similar circumstances deal with too.
The need for helpful and accurate information on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias has never been greater. Technological development over the last couple of decades, specifically the internet and the devices that can easily access the web has given us volumes of information, literally at our fingertips.
Well-known teacher and choral director Ken Fleet and his family have been named the Honouree Family for the 2015 Walk For Alzheimer’s. As the largest fundraising event for the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex, the Walk raises money to support programs and services delivered at no cost to people living with dementia.
The value of volunteerism is never more clearly seen than at our office. With almost 1200 active clients (2013-14 stats) who participate in the 30 programs delivered by the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex at no cost, we could not provide the level of service to our community without the dedicated work of our volunteers. From secondary and post-secondary students all the way to senior citizens, the work of our volunteers is not only invaluable but inspiring. To each and every one of them - we say, thank you!
January is Alzheimer Awareness Month in Canada and that means a number of media and awareness initiatives that you may (hopefully) have experienced in the news. If you haven’t, you’ve missed the main message of this year’s campaign and that message is an important one as it relates to the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on women. If you’ve already seen this information through whatever information source you use, I think the message is significant enough to have you examine and digest it again.
The Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex strives to provide programming that supports people with dementia and their caregivers through the dementia journey. In the fall of 2013 and in collaboration with the Community Service Learning Program at Western University, we piloted the “iPod Project”. The program is based on music appreciation for those with a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease or other dementia (ADOD).
Many of us have heard the term “Journey” when the topic of dementia is brought up in conversation. It’s an apt description for a disease that has only one destination and features many twists and turns along the way.
If you’re even remotely interested in current events, you have likely come across stories or articles about Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. The media attention dementia has received over the last number of years is reflective of the profound societal effect the disease imparts on us all. Overall this attention is a good thing; there needs to be more awareness about this most complex of cognitive disorders.
My mother had Alzheimer’s disease. My family and I think she first showed symptoms when she was 68 years old. A more accurate statement would be the indications became just too obvious to ignore. Research shows that Alzheimer’s begins its inexorable progress years, even decades before the symptoms come to the fore. Like many others with the disease, I’m sure Mom experienced some cognitive difficulties she kept to herself or allowed herself to accept.
On the surface, there may not be much that connects Alzheimer’s and other dementias with youth. Alzheimer’s disease is commonly associated with an older population – only rarely affecting the younger generation. Dig a little deeper into your community though and you will find that there is in fact, a lot more connecting Alzheimer’s and dementia with a younger population than meets the eye.
A common question we hear at the Alzheimer Society is one that involves the confusion over Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Aren’t they the same? Is one worse than the other? What is the difference?
While the holidays can be a time of celebration, the holiday season can also be overwhelmingly stressful if you are a person with dementia or a caregiver. The festivities of the season many times involve visiting unfamiliar places, large groups of people, noise and a hectic pace all of which can increase anxiety for those with the disease. Whether the person you’re caring for lives at home or in long-term care, sticking to a regular routine will minimize stress. Keeping things simple and cherishing the time with family will make the holiday period enjoyable and meaningful for everyone involved.