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Getting a dementia diagnosis – where do you start?

Getting a dementia diagnosis – where do you start?

It can start with something simple, like having trouble following your favourite recipe, or putting your car keys in the fridge. Maybe you’ve noticed small changes in your memory that are affecting how you do things day-to-day.

If you can’t quite remember things that should be straightforward for you, or if you notice changes in your mood or ability to communicate, make an appointment to see your family doctor right away.

Diagnosing dementia is a complex and difficult process. The first thing your doctor will do is try to rule out if it’s a treatable condition, like depression or even an infection.

By finding out what is causing your symptoms, you can get the right kind of care, support and access to treatments as early as possible.

Be prepared to start the conversation with your doctor:

  • Take the time to review the 10 warning signs of dementia. This is important because dementia is not a normal part of aging, nor is memory loss the only symptom.
  • Jot down the signs you’ve been noticing in yourself. When did these start? Have they changed over time? This information will keep your conversation focused.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask your doctor if your symptoms could be caused by another health condition.
  • Be sure to let him or her know about your medical history, including any medications you’re currently taking.
  • Ask your doctor to explain what tests you’ll need and how long these will take.
  • Will you need to see a specialist or a series of specialists? How will you need to prepare for these visits?

For more tips on getting ready for your doctor’s visit, download our Getting a diagnosis toolkit. It offers a whole list of questions to ask as well as detailed information about the warning signs and what you can expect during the diagnosis process.

And, if you’re concerned about someone else, we encourage you to pass our toolkit along.


Getting an early diagnosis helps you and your family take control of the situation, plan for future and live as well as possible with dementia. Learn more about the benefits of an early diagnosis

Research Video Series: Introducing Sharon Koehn

Research Video Series: Introducing Sharon Koehn

Too often, immigrants in Canada don’t receive the help and support they need because of barriers like language and culture.

That’s why Dr. Sharon Koehn from Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, is on a mission to identify ways to foster relationships of trust among immigrants affected by dementia and encourage them to reach out to multicultural agencies.

Living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is hard enough; it’s essential that we ensure that we don’t make it even harder by not paying attention to how and if people access appropriate information and care.
-Dr. Sharon Koehn

Dr. Sharon Koehn

Quality of Life Grant Recipient in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – $119,623
Project: Building trust to facilitate access to dementia care for immigrant older adults: the role of the multicultural services sector.

Read about more of our grant and award recipients here.

How do you want to leave your financial legacy?

How do you want to leave your financial legacy?

Planning for the future is important for everyone, but it’s especially important if you or someone you care about has dementia. That’s why we’ve partnered with RBC Wealth Management Estate & Trust Services to bring you a series of informative blogs about estate planning.

In this blog, Leanne Kaufman, Head of RBC Estate & Trust Services, asks ‘What kind of financial legacy do you want to leave behind?’

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Celebrating Mother’s Day when Mom has dementia

Celebrating Mother’s Day when Mom has dementia

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, the crunch is on to find that perfect gift to show your mom just how much she means to you. But what if your mom has dementia? Here are a few simple, engaging ways to show your mom how much you care—on Mother’s Day or any other day of the year.

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Living well…right to the end

Living well…right to the end

May 7 – 13, 2017 is National Hospice Palliative Care Week. Mary Schulz, Director of Education at the Alzheimer Society of Canada discusses some of the misconceptions about palliative care and why it’s important to have conversations about end-of-life.

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Research Video Series: Introducing Dr. Edith Hamel

Research Video Series: Introducing Dr. Edith Hamel


Dr. Edith Hamel’s research focuses on the supply of blood to the brain, which is so important as the brain doesn’t have a reserve of oxygen and glucose – the main fuel for neurons. This project could uncover ways to slow down the progression of vascular dementia, possibly through the use of therapies already available for the treatment of diabetes and hypercholesterolemia. Dr. Hamel is a professor at McGill University in Montreal.

I strongly believe that real possibilities exist to prevent or delay the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.
-Dr. Edith Hamel

Dr. Edith Hamel

Biomedical Grant Recipient in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – $150,000
Project: Role of compromised cerebral circulation in susceptibility to cognitive failure.

Read about more of our grant and award recipients here.

Research Video Series: Introducing Iva Brunec

Research Video Series: Introducing Iva Brunec


Iva Brunec is investigating how memories about the duration and order of events are created in healthy brains, and how this ability changes in those at risk for dementia. Is the ability to encode and recall information about time one of the first functions to break down with Alzheimer’s disease? Does it affect other aspects of memory as a result? This research aims to provide evidence of a sensitive indicator before a diagnosis of dementia even occurs.

Investigating these disorders and aiming to understand what causes them, how they progress, and how they may be alleviated or prevented could enrich the lives of not only those living with dementia but also the networks of their families and caregivers.
-Iva Brunec

Iva Brunec

Biomedical Doctoral Award Recipient in Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia – $66,000
Project: Investigating the hippocampal role in encoding temporal information as a possible

Read about more of our grant and award recipients here.

The mirror of dementia

The mirror of dementia

I look in the mirror and what do I see?

I see me. That is me…the same ‘me’ I’ve always seen when I look in the mirror.

But wait – is it really the same ‘me’? Is this what others see? I look like me – or the ‘me’ I was.

You see, I have changed – not on the outside, not in who I am, not in what I believe; I haven’t changed in how I see the world.

You see, I’ve changed in how my mind works.

The words…the words I use, they don’t come easy; they become confused. That word I want to use – you know that word – it won’t come to me now.

Oh yes, there I am, there in the mirror. What did I come in here for? I don’t know. Well, I’m in the bathroom looking in the mirror…I must be in here for something.

Oh look, here is a hairbrush. That must be it – I must have come in to brush my hair.

But when I look in the mirror, my hair is already brushed. No, no, that is not what I’m in here for.

This disease is making me confused at times. But I’m still me when I look in the mirror.

No, wait – those aren’t my eyes. Those eyes I see looking back at me are tired; my eyes aren’t tired.

My eyes twinkle and are full of life. I am full of life.

Look, look in the mirror – that is me. The ‘me’ others see.

Look at my smile – there it is – yes, I am happy. I have a loving husband and a supportive family. Yes, I am happy.

But, wait…that smile is drooping…my smile doesn’t droop.

Is this a sign of that disease in my head…the one that is attacking my brain? The brain that does not always work the way I want it to…

Can others see theses signs, too?

Look in the mirror – this is me.

How long will I still be me? How long will I still see me?

How soon before I look in this mirror and the ‘me’ won’t be there?


© 2016 Phyllis Fehr

Phyllis is a person living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. She is a strong advocate for the rights and abilities of people with dementia at the local, national and international level. Read her full bio here: http://www.odag.ca/our-people.html