Seniors’ Column

Part two of the article that addresses the subject of Alzheimer’s disease continues in this weeks’ column.

The disease is recorded as the most common of a large group of disorders known as dementias. It is an irreversible disease of the brain in which the progressive degeneration of brain cells causes thinking ability and memory, to deteriorate. It also affects behaviour, mood and emotions along with the ability to perform daily living activities.

This disorder was first identified by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in the year 1906. He noted that as the disease progresses and effects different areas of the brain, various abilities and behaviours become impaired. Unfortunately, once an ability is lost it is not known (at this time) to return. However, research is now suggesting that some relearning through various methods are showing hope in the fight to counter this disorder in future.

Clinical trials are now underway to identify ways to prevent and treat dementia, such as through drugs, vaccines and also by addressing cardiovascular and lifestyle factors, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, a registered, non-profit organization.

Research currently shows that the quality of life of persons diagnosed as having the disease and also their caregivers is significantly improved by engaging in activities that emphasize their strengths and abilities.

By understanding the personality, life experiences, support systems and ways of coping, a person-centred approach to care can preserve and improve quality of life. Behavioural changes, some of which may seem out of character, will likely develop according to the way the person reacts to the environment. Significant advances in treatments can have a positive impact on an individual’s day-to-day life. Several medications are now available that can help to deal with symptoms such as a decline in memory, language, thinking abilities and motor skills.

Earlier diagnosis can mean that such treatments are started in the early stages, and improve the quality of life for many people.

For more information concerning dementia education and its impact as well as a number of educational workshops which are scheduled to take place throughout the region, focus on practical coping strategies as well as early planning, contact Julie Leffelaar at 265-4077 or email her at


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