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January is Alzheimer Awareness Month

January 14, 2015
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Are-Mental-Health-Service-Providers-Understaffed-and-UnderfundedIt has been said that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect about 400,000 Canadians. Even scarier is the research that suggest this number will nearly double by year 2031. Clearly, memory loss is a major issue facing Canada’s senior citizens and disability community.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia impact the lives of not only hundreds of thousands of Canadians, but their family members and friends, too. Is your life affected by Alzheimer’s disease? If you are not directly impacted by Alzheimer’s now, you may come across a person or family who struggles with it in the future.  This is one reason why Alzheimer Society declares January as Alzheimer Awareness month. Bringing awareness to the degenerative disease can educate Canadians on the realities of dementia so they can best care for the people around them.

How much do you know about Alzheimer’s Disease?

We hear the word “Alzheimer” on the nightly news and see it having a rippling affect throughout the nation, but do you truly understand what Alzheimer’s disease is?

Alzheimer’s disease is actually a form of dementia. Dementia is the loss of a certain amount of brain function. Alzheimer’s disease is degenerative, meaning it gets worse as it progresses, affecting memory, thinking, and behaviour.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) presents itself in two forms: Early onset and late onset. Early onset Alzheimer’s disease develops before someone is 60 years old, whereas late onset AD develops after someone is 60. Late onset Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of AD.

What Are The Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Malfunctioning of memory, perception, atypical emotional behaviour, changing personality traits, language, judgement, and thinking are all common side effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Who Is At Risk Of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease?

People who are elderly, have a biological relative with Alzheimer’s, have sustained high blood pressure for long periods of time, have experienced trauma to the head, or who have specific genes may be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Women are more affected by Alzheimer’s than men.

Other Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease

Here are a few Alzheimer’s disease and dementia related statistics:

  • “50 percent more Canadians could potentially face Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias in the next 5 years.”
  • 72 percent of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease are females.
  • “Within a generation, the number of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia will more than double, ranging between 1 and 1.3 million people.”

Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease in Canada

Similarly, Alzheimer.ca reports these startling facts about the economic impact of dementia.

“Today, the combined direct (medical) and indirect (lost earnings) costs of dementia total $33 billion per year. If nothing changes, this number will climb to $293 billion a year by 2040.”

Steve Rudin, Executive Director of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, says the disease costs Canadians nearly $4 billion per year. “More research dollars are needed to fight this disease,” he says.

Like many initiatives, research dollars to find a cure, increase detection times, and to learn more about the disease in general are underfunded. The Alzheimer Society of Canada contributes over $1 million annually in research dollars alone, but lack of federal and government awareness has translated into weak support.

Unfortunately, research dollars are just the tip of the iceberg. Home caregivers have struggled for years, needing additional support to care adequately for the spouses and loved ones with the disease.

Throughout the month of January, many issues surrounding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease will be discussed on several channels nationwide. To join the conversation and support the cause, get plugged into organizations like Alzheimer Society of Canada: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en.

In the meantime, get involved in Alzheimer Awareness Month by leaving a comment in the “reply” section below. Here are some questions to start a conversation:

  • Are you surprised by these statistics about Alzheimer’s disease in Canada?
  • What organization, charities, and government programmes help people with dementia near you?
  • Should the government do more assist home caregivers and research?
  • What is one of the most difficult aspects of caring for a loved one inflicted with this disease at home?

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