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January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: a time when we are all encouraged to learn about the impact of this terrible disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly three-quarters of a million Canadians live with Alzheimer’s. It is the number one leading cause of dementia, which is a general term for impaired cognitive function in later life. There is currently no cure, but researchers are working hard to fix this, and treatments are continually improving.

What Exactly Is Alzheimer’s?

Scientists are uncertain as to the precise cause of Alzheimer’s, but it’s agreed that the main effect is a die-off of brain cells. Although age contributes to the risk factor, don’t be mistaken: “Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of ageing.” It is a disease that starts with mild mental slips and gets progressively worse: leading to paranoia, moodiness, lack of awareness, confusion, serious memory loss, behavioural changes, and full-blown dementia.

What Is Being Done?

There are new trials and studies for Alzheimer’s medications all the time, but a definitive cure still eludes us. For now, treatments focus on slowing down the deleterious effects of the disease.

How Can I Help?

Reading this article is a great first step to taking part in Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Here are some further steps you might consider:

  • If you have someone with Alzheimer’s in your life, there are resources to help make your interactions as meaningful as possible. These range from learning communication methods for interacting with Alzheimer’s patients to guiding them through music and art therapy.
  • If you have been affected by Alzheimer’s, share your story. It can serve as a healing moment for you and a learning moment for others; this is what Awareness Month is all about.
  • If you’d like to volunteer, fundraise, or donate, check out the Alzheimer’s Society’s “Take Action” page.

The Hamlets at Westsyde is a long-term care and assisted-living community in Kamloops, BC, Canada. With a full range of services, and compassionate care based on the tenets of Christianity, The Hamlets at Westsyde help seniors live a fulfilling life. 

If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about our community in Kamloops, please call us at (250) 579-9061.

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