PENINSULA ZOOMERS: Dementia needs our attention

White Rock/Surrey chapter of CARP to host Stress and Dementia presentation.

Now, where did I leave my car keys?

What was the name of that actor in that movie we just saw?

Did I tell you that story already…sorry I don’t remember.

No, I am not losing my mind. I am told this is just a sign of “normal aging.”

But for the 564,000 Canadians living with dementia – the number is expected to double in 15 years – this is not the case. For them, their lives tell a different story.

In Canada, there are 25,000 new cases of dementia diagnosed every year. Including patients, families and informal caregivers, 1.1 million Canadians are affected by the disease.

According to the Alzheimer Society of BC, dementia is an overall term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain, including Alzheimer’s.

Dementia is an illness that robs people of their personality, cognitive ability, independence, control and wellbeing – essential traits that make people who they are. As a result, living in the world of dementia is often frightening for sufferers, as well as family and friends who often provide care.

If you are worried about symptoms for yourself or a loved one, CARP provides a link to the mild behavioural impairment checklist which has 34 questions, three of which are listed below:

• Has the person lost interest in friends, family, or home activities?

• Is the person less affectionate and/or lacking in emotions when compared to her/his usual self?

• Does the person seem to lack the social judgment she/he previously had about what to say or how to behave in public or private?

CARP is advocating for people affected by this daunting disease and is fighting for a National Dementia Care Strategy that supports caregivers and ensures Canadians with dementia get the best possible care.

And they now have hope.

Have you heard of the expression, “the personal is political?”

Last year, Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott signaled support for a national dementia strategy when she tearfully described her 81-year-old father’s battle with dementia.

And just this month, Conservative MP Rob Nicholson teamed with Liberal MP Rob Oliphant to push for a national non-partisan Alzheimer’s and dementia strategy. Nicholson, who recently introduced a private member’s bill calling for a Canada-wide framework, has experienced the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s first-hand with his father.

Your White Rock/Surrey CARP chapter invites you to be part of the discussion, as we ask what part does stress play?

Please join us for Stress and the Dementia Connection, presented by Karen Tyrell.

Karen is a dementia consultant, educator and author, and for over 20 years has been an advocate for those affected by dementia. She will be sharing information on how stress affects brain health and how scientists warn it can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Her presentation – March 30, 7-9 p.m., White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russell Ave. – will also include tips for reducing stress. Fee is by donation. Please RSVP to Denice at 604-538-5778.

For more, visit www.alzheimer.ca/en/bc/about-dementia

To learn more about CARP’s dementia-care strategy and the impairment checklist, visit www.carp.ca/priority/national-dementia-care-strategy/

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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