Dementia is a term that means loss of memory and other cognitive functions, which interfere with activities of daily living. Living with any form of dementia can take a toll on the patient and caregivers. It can come as a shock, and it will be a moment of crisis where strong support is needed.
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases in Canada and generally affects more seniors than any other age group. Alzheimer’s occurs when the brain cells and connections die, affecting the ability to think coherently and remember things both in the long and short-term. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, but there are ways to help advance the field and assist the people suffering, including both patients and their loved ones.
The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada is an active community-centered organization dedicated to helping those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Their focus is to provide adequate and thorough education, counselling, support, and resources for help outside the doctor or hospital setting not only to patients, but to families, caregivers, and healthcare professionals who work with Alzheimer and dementia patients.
Advocacy is an important role of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. They work closely with government officials and the community to push for legislative changes that will improve the programs that work towards finding a cure or better treatment for this degrading disease. The goal is to improve the care offered to Alzheimer and dementia patients, while providing the support needed to those who suffer alongside them.
Mounting research and evidence shows that the earlier the disease is caught, the better the patient and family tend to fare. There are services offered by the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada that will help newly diagnosed patients and families become more familiar with symptoms and how to handle them. For example, First Link is a referral service that helps you find the appropriate practitioners; MedicAlert Safely Home is a program offered to help ensure the Alzheimer sufferer does not get lost or injured, assisting with a safe return home. On the MedicAlert bracelet is critical information about the person’s health, so as to avoid medical errors if there is an emergency.
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. No referrals are needed. Even if you are unsure if there is even a diagnosis of dementia lurking in your family, this organization can still help you find the best resources as well as healthcare providers in your area who can make a diagnosis and recommended treatment options.