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Research Video Series: Introducing Stephanie Chamberlain

Research Video Series: Introducing Stephanie Chamberlain


Trained as a personal support worker in long-term care, Stephanie Chamberlain is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Alberta. There, she is assessing the impact of court-appointed public guardianship on the health and care needs of long-term care residents. Stephanie is the Alzheimer Society Research Program’s first Revera Scholar.

It is essential that we improve quality of life and quality of care to those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia because how we treat a life that has been lived is reflective of our essential humanity.
-Stephanie Chamberlain

Stephanie Chamberlain

Revera Scholar Doctoral Award in Alzheimer’s disease (Quality of Life) – $66,000
Project: Unrepresented older adults: The impact of public guardianship on resident health and care needs in long-term care

Read about more of our grants and awards recipients here.

Research Video Series: Introducing Dr. Rahel Rabi

Research Video Series: Introducing Dr. Rahel Rabi


At the University of Toronto, Rahel Rabi’s research focuses on diagnosis and detection, where she is working hard to identify the cognitive biomarkers of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In this video, Rahel describes her research funded by the Alzheimer Society Research Program in her own words.

Scientists have made remarkable strides in understanding Alzheimer’s disease, and with recent advances in research involving novel techniques, we can work towards finding a cure.
-Rahel Rabi

Rahel Rabi

Rawlinson Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Alzheimer’s Disease (Quality of Life) – $100,000
Project: Stroop event-related potentials as neurocognitive markers for amnestic mild cognitive impairment
This project is funded by the Rawlinson Family.

Read about more of our grants and awards recipients here.

What this week’s Nobel Prize in Medicine announcement means for dementia research

What this week’s Nobel Prize in Medicine announcement means for dementia research

Brain cells

This year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries on how cells eat themselves.

That’s right – Ohsumi conducted experiments in the 1990s on how cells break down and recycle their components, literally eating themselves to remove damaged content and provide building blocks for cell regeneration.

This process is called “autophagy”, a term that was actually coined in 1963 by Belgian scientist Christian de Duve, who also received a Nobel Prize for his work in this area.

So what’s so noteworthy about Ohsumi’s research? His discoveries are significant because he was able to show why this process exists, where it happens, and its different uses in the human body.

For example, we now know that autophagy removes proteins that clump together abnormally in brain cells, like in some forms of dementia. The process also plays a key role in the immune system, where defects can be a common thread across many diseases of aging, from neurodegeneration to cancer. In fact, autophagy defects have been linked to many health conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Researchers are now trying to figure out whether these diseases can be treated with new drugs that boost or suppress the autophagy process. As research in this area progresses, it could completely change the way we treat conditions like dementia, whose cause is still unclear and for which there is currently no cure.


Did you know? The Alzheimer Society supports biomedical and quality of life research through the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP). Since its inception in 1989, the ASRP has funded over $50 million in grants and awards. Discover the exciting new avenues in dementia research being explored by Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) recipients >

Changing the way dementia research is done in Canada

Changing the way dementia research is done in Canada

By Drs. Katherine McGilton and Jennifer Bethell

Research is usually researcher-driven. We want to help change that.

What do we mean? Researchers usually decide what work is important enough to be funded and then good enough to be published. But are researchers aware of the issues that matter most to those who can actually benefit from their work? Not always.

That’s why we’ve created the Canadian Dementia Priority Setting Partnership, a study that will bring the voices of Canadians affected by dementia into the conversation about research. By involving people with lived experience, we can improve the way that dementia research is done and communicated.

The results of the study will produce a list of the top 10 Canadian dementia research priorities, which we hope will help guide researchers and the organizations that fund them.

Whether you are living with the disease, a caregiver, a health-care provider, or even just interested in the issue – we want to hear from YOU.

Please take a few minutes to complete the study questionnaire, here: alzheimer.ca/researchpriorities.

Help spread the word by sharing the link through your personal and social networks.


Changer la manière de mener la recherche sur les maladies cognitives au Canada

Changing the way dementia research is done in Canada

Par les Dres Katherine McGilton et Jennifer Bethell

Les travaux de recherche sont habituellement engagés par les chercheurs. Nous voulons aider à changer cela.

Qu’est-ce que cela signifie? Les chercheurs déterminent généralement les travaux qui sont assez importants pour être financés et ceux qui sont assez bon pour être publiés. Les chercheurs sont-ils cependant conscients des enjeux les plus importants pour les personnes qui sont réellement concernées par leur travail? Pas toujours.

C’est pourquoi nous avons mis sur pied le Partenariat canadien pour l’établissement des priorités sur les maladies cognitives : une étude qui permettra aux Canadiens touchés par les maladies cognitives de faire entendre leur voix dans le débat sur la recherche. En impliquant des personnes ayant une expérience vécue, nous pouvons améliorer la manière de mener et de communiquer les travaux de recherche sur les maladies cognitives.

Les résultats de l’étude permettront d’établir une liste de 10 priorités de recherche sur les maladies cognitives au Canada, qui, nous l’espérons, pourront guider les chercheurs et les organisations qui les financent.

Que vous soyez atteint de la maladie, que vous soyez un aidant, un fournisseur de soins de santé, ou que la question vous intéresse tout simplement… nous voulons avoir VOTRE avis!

Veuillez prendre quelques minutes pour répondre au questionnaire : alzheimer.ca/prioritesderecherche.

Aidez-nous à faire passer le mot en diffusant ce lien dans vos réseaux personnels et sociaux.

Introducing the 2016 Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) Community Representatives

Introducing the 2016 Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) Community Representatives

This year the Alzheimer Society celebrates 28 years of funding research through the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP). The peer review panel meetings were held in February 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, and included the role of Community Representatives. Community Representatives are members of the general public who are not currently involved with research who are given the opportunity to comment on the intent, purpose and on the clarity of the language used within the lay summaries of research applications that are received by the Society. Their involvement in peer review serves as a mechanism for public accountability by providing feedback on the ASRP peer review process.

It is with great pleasure that we introduce our 2016 Community Representatives:

Neville-Chenoy“I was amazed at the breadth and scope of research projects which were received from researchers across the country. I had no idea of the extent of this endeavor but, on a personal level, very grateful that so much work is being done to identify the cause of the Alzheimer problem which may one day lead to a cure.

Even more impressive to me was the expertise and dedication of the panel members to review the various proposals. Each panel member must have spent countless hours doing so liaising with colleagues, analyzing what was being proposed and bringing to the table an informed judgment.

The process itself was unique in that it set out to be fair by applying a scoring system from the start and laying out ground rules for conflict of interest which were meticulously followed. Over the years I have participated in many organizations working to allocate their resources to new programs or research proposals but your Peer Review Process is truly tops.”

-Neville Chenoy, 2016 Community Representative, Biomedical Peer Review Panel
Neville is living with Mild Cognitive Impairment. He is a retired health care consultant living in Toronto and attends support groups hosted by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto.

 

Sherri-Russell“Funding research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is important to me because it is not a clearly defined or understood disease and more information is needed.

It was a pleasure being a part of the Peer Review Panel. Thanks to those who made us feel welcomed – a memory I shall never forget …I hope!”

-Sherri Russell, 2016 Community Representative, Quality of Life Peer Review Panel
Sherri is living with Mild Cognitive Impairment. She formerly worked in Real Estate. Sherri enjoys playing bridge, writing, exercising and staying social.

 

 

 

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Des représentants de la collectivité participent au Programme de recherche de la Société Alzheimer 2016 (PRSA)

Le Programme de recherche de la Société Alzheimer finance la recherche depuis maintenant 28 ans. Des représentants de la collectivité ont participé aux réunions des comités d’évaluation par des pairs, qui ont eu lieu en février 2016 à Toronto (Ontario). Les représentants de la collectivité sont des membres du grand public qui ne participent pas actuellement à la recherche. Ils donnent leurs commentaires sur les intentions et les objectifs des projets de recherche soumis et sur la clarté du langage utilisé dans les résumés simplifiés. Leur contribution au processus d’évaluation par des pairs fournit un mécanisme de reddition de comptes auprès du public.

Nous sommes très heureux de vous présenter nos représentants de la collectivité pour 2016:

Neville-Chenoy« J’ai été frappé par l’ampleur et la portée des projets de recherche soumis par les chercheurs de tout le pays. Je ne m’attendais pas à une telle activité. Je dois dire que je suis personnellement très heureux de l’importance des efforts déployés pour mieux comprendre la maladie d’Alzheimer. Un jour, il sera possible de la guérir.

J’ai été encore plus impressionné par l’expertise et le dévouement des membres du comité chargé d’évaluer les divers projets soumis. Chacun des participants doit sans doute consacrer de nombreuses heures à cet exercice, pour assurer la liaison avec les autres membres du comité, faire l’évaluation des projets et apporter un jugement éclairé au cours des discussions.

Le processus d’évaluation est unique en ce qu’il applique un système de pointage pour assurer des conditions équitables, et des règles strictes pour éviter les conflits d’intérêts. Au fil des ans, j’ai participé à de nombreux groupes de travail chargés de l’allocation des ressources destinées à de nouveaux programmes ou à des projets de recherche, mais votre processus d’évaluation par les pairs n’a vraiment pas son pareil. »

-Neville Chenoy, représentant du public 2016, comité d’évaluation par les pairs, volet biomédical
Chenoy est atteint d’un trouble cognitif léger. Consultant en soins de santé, il est maintenant à la retraite et participe à des groupes de soutien offerts par la Société Alzheimer de Toronto.

 

Sherri-Russell« Le financement de la recherche sur la maladie d’Alzheimer et les autres maladies cognitives est important pour moi, parce que ces maladies ne sont pas clairement cernées ni comprises et qu’il est nécessaire de pousser plus avant.

J’ai été ravie de faire partie du comité d’évaluation par des pairs. Je vous remercie de nous avoir chaleureusement accueillis. Je n’oublierai jamais cette expérience… enfin je l’espère. »

-Sherri Russell, représentante du public 2016, comité d’évaluation par les pairs, volet qualité de vie

Mme Russell, qui est atteinte d’un trouble cognitif léger, travaillait auparavant dans l’immobilier. Elle aime le bridge, l’écriture, l’exercice et les activités sociales.

 

Greetings from ASRP researchers visiting Dublin, Ireland!

Greetings from ASRP researchers visiting Dublin, Ireland!

We are three trainees supported by the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) – Emma is working on her PhD, and David and Jen are both postdoctoral researchers (they’ve finished their PhDs and are continuing on with their research training and careers).

Dublin
Here we are outside the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle : (David Stock, Jennifer Bethel and Emma Smith)

Most of the time, this means we are in our labs or offices, working on our research projects. However, this past week, we were fortunate to be among the handful of Canadians selected to take part in the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland(CARDI) International Training Programme on Ageing. The Program, held at Trinity College Dublin, brought together researchers, clinicians, Alzheimer Society (UK and Ireland) representatives and other trainees for three days of lectures, mentoring sessions and presentations.

For us, it was a great opportunity to learn about directions the field of dementia research is taking, not only in health research, but also in other disciplines like architecture and law. It is becoming plain that a successful strategy for the growing burden of dementia as our population ages will require working across disciplines, in partnership between people affected by dementia, researchers, and clinicians.

We look forward to such future partnerships, both across Canada and globally. We also each had the opportunity to present on our own work, including Emma’s research into powered mobility training, David’s study into care for brain injury and Jen’s work on involving Canadians in identifying priorities for dementia research.

The three days were a great opportunity for us to learn from the other attendees, as well as build professional and personal connections with fellow trainees and researchers both in Canada and abroad. A talk from dementia advocate Ronan Smith about his own story facing early onset disease was also a powerful reminder of why we got involved in dementia research in the first place.

Our thanks to the Alzheimer Society and its generous donors for supporting us in our dementia research and training.

David, Emma and Jen

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Salutations de Dublin, Irlande!

Nous sommes trois stagiaires soutenus par le Programme de recherche de la Société Alzheimer (PRSA). Je m’appelle Emma et je termine en ce moment mon doctorat. David et Jen sont des chercheurs postdoctoraux (leur doctorat est terminé et ils poursuivent leur formation et leur carrière.)

Dublin
Vous nous voyez ici à l’extérieur de la bibliothèque Chester Beatty, château de Dublin : (David Stock, Jennifer Bethell and Emma Smith)

La plupart du temps, nous sommes dans notre laboratoire ou dans notre bureau et nous travaillons sur nos projets de recherche. La semaine dernière, nous avons eu la chance d’être choisis parmi une poignée de Canadiens pour participer au programme international de formation sur le vieillissement qui se tenait au centre de recherche et de développement sur le vieillissement en Irlande (Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI)). Ce programme, présenté au Trinity College de Dublin, réunissait des chercheurs, des cliniciens, des représentants de la Société Alzheimer (G.-B. et Irlande) et d’autres stagiaires, et proposait pendant trois jours des conférences, des séances de mentorat et des présentations.

Cette occasion extraordinaire nous a permis de nous informer sur les directions prises par la recherche dans le domaine des maladies cognitives, non seulement la recherche en santé, mais également celle qui touche à d’autres disciplines, comme l’architecture et le droit. Il semble de plus en plus évident que la mise en place d’une stratégie gagnante pour faire face au fardeau grandissant des maladies cognitives nécessitera une collaboration entre plusieurs disciplines, en partenariat avec les personnes atteintes, les chercheurs et les médecins. Nous sommes enchantés à la perspective de la mise en place de tels partenariats à l’avenir, aussi bien dans tout le Canada que dans le monde entier. Nous avons également eu l’occasion de présenter nos propres recherches, y compris la mienne sur la formation à la mobilité motorisée, celle de David sur les soins de santé pour les victimes de traumatisme crânien, et celle de Jen sur l’identification des priorités dans la recherche sur les maladies cognitives.

Au cours de ces trois journées, nous avons beaucoup appris des autres participants et nous avons établi des liens professionnels et personnels avec des stagiaires et chercheurs du Canada et de partout dans le monde. Un porte-parole de la cause Alzheimer, M. Ronan Smith, à qui la forme précoce de la maladie a été diagnostiquée, nous a raconté sa propre histoire dans le cadre de son allocution. Son témoignage a été pour nous un rappel énergique de la raison pour laquelle nous avons toujours voulu participer à la recherche sur les maladies cognitives.

Nous remercions la Société Alzheimer et ses généreux donateurs de soutenir nos travaux de recherche et notre stage de formation dans le domaine des maladies cognitives.

David, Emma et Jen

Introducing the 2015 Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) Community Representatives / Des représentants de la collectivité participent au Programme de recherche de la Société Alzheimer (PRSA)

Introducing the 2015 Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) Community Representatives / Des représentants de la collectivité participent au Programme de recherche de la Société Alzheimer (PRSA)

This year the Alzheimer Society celebrates 27 years of funding research through the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP). The peer review panel meetings were held in February 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, and included the role of Community Representatives.

Community Representatives are members of the general public who are not currently involved with research who are given the opportunity to comment on the intent, purpose and on the clarity of the language used within the lay summaries of research applications that are received by the Society. Their involvement in peer review serves as a mechanism for public accountability by providing feedback on the ASRP peer review process.

It is with great pleasure that we introduce our 2015 Community Representatives:

“I was given the chance to understand the peer review process and the Alzheimer society’s involvement in research when I reviewed as a community representative. Being a part of the process meant a lot to me. The different abstracts read were very helpful to me because it gave me hope about my husband who has MCI, some of which may help him someday.  Also, the doctors we met were all very professional and ethical, open and friendly. As a caregiver I found the peer review process to be a learning experience; I got to learn about interesting abstracts and research about MCI/Alzheimer’s disease/Dementia.

Funding research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is important to me because there is a need for early diagnosis, understanding the cause of Alzheimer’s and treatment for the different types of dementias. Hopefully my husband and children and others will benefit from this research.”

-Lydia Watts, 2015 Community Representative, Biomedical Peer Review Panel

Lydia is the primary caregiver to her husband, Bruce, who has Mild Cognitive Impairment. She is a retired medical technologist and now enjoys volunteering and her hobbies include beading and taking online courses.

Bruce-and-Lydia-Watts
“This has been a rewarding and interesting experience. It is encouraging to hear how much research and development there is to control the advancement and perhaps eventually cure this devastating disease. Everyone we met at this conference are very friendly, open and encouraging people all working together with a similar goal – to beat this disease and improve our quality of life. Having an opportunity to comment on the research left me feeling heard and understood for the input I was given the chance to offer.

As a person living with dementia I found the peer review process to be an important and worthwhile endeavour and time well spent.

Funding research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is important to me because research is finding a way to control and eventually cure Alzheimer’s and MCI is important now and for future generations.”

-Bruce Watts, 2015 Community Representative, Biomedical Peer Review Panel

Bruce is living with Mild Cognitive Impairment and is supported by his wife Lydia and family. He is a retired medical technologist. His hobbies include photography.

 

Gail“This has been a positive and encouraging experience. I am impressed with the variety of proposals and the thorough and detailed process used to make decisions. The discussions were clear and lively and people were patient yet challenging.

As a person living with dementia I found the peer review process to be encouraging and thorough.

Funding research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is important to me because I hope they will find a cure. As well it will provide different and new ways to deal with the disease. I am particularly interested in long term care.”

-Gail Reid, 2015 Community Representative, Quality of Life Peer Review Panel

Gail is living with Alzheimer’s disease. She formerly worked as a social worker, magazine editor and writer.

 

Sandi“I am honoured and pleased to play a small part on this panel.As a person living with dementia I found the peer review process to be very formative and interesting.

Funding research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is important to me because with the aging population there is a great need.”

-Sandi Matchett, 2015 Community Representative, Quality of Life Peer Review Panel

Sandi is living with dementia. She is a former graphic designer who enjoys water colour painting and playing tennis.

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Le Programme de recherche de la Société Alzheimer finance la recherche depuis maintenant 27 ans. Des représentants de la collectivité ont participé aux réunions des comités d’évaluation par des pairs, qui ont eu lieu en février 2015 à Toronto (Ontario).

Les représentants de la collectivité sont des membres du grand public qui ne participent pas actuellement à la recherche. Ils donnent leurs commentaires sur les intentions et les objectifs des projets de recherche soumis et sur la clarté du langage utilisé dans les résumés simplifiés. Leur contribution au processus d’évaluation par des pairs fournit un mécanisme de reddition de comptes auprès du public.

Nous sommes très heureux de vous présenter nos représentants de la collectivité pour 2015.

« À titre de représentante de la collectivité, j’ai eu la chance de comprendre le fonctionnement du processus d’évaluation par des pairs et les modalités de participation de la Société Alzheimer à la recherche. Cela a été très important pour moi de participer à ce processus. Les divers résumés que j’ai lus m’ont donné beaucoup d’espoir pour mon mari qui est atteint d’un trouble cognitif léger. Certains des projets soumis pourraient un jour ou l’autre lui venir en aide. Tous les médecins que j’ai rencontrés ont fait preuve d’éthique et de professionnalisme, en plus d’être très ouverts et sympathiques. Le processus d’évaluation par des pairs m’a permis d’enrichir mes connaissances à titre d’aidante. J’ai appris beaucoup à la lecture des résumés de recherche sur les troubles cognitifs légers, la maladie d’Alzheimer et les maladies apparentées.

Le financement de la recherche sur l’Alzheimer et les maladies apparentées me tient à cœur. Il est important d’établir rapidement le diagnostic et de trouver les causes de ces maladies afin de mettre au point un traitement. J’espère que mon mari, mes enfants et d’autres personnes pourront en profiter »

– Lydia Watts, représentante de la collectivité, comité d’évaluation par les pairs, volet biomédical

Mme Watts est l’aidante principale de son mari, Bruce, atteint d’un trouble cognitif léger. Technologiste médicale à la retraite, elle aime faire du bénévolat, broder et suivre des cours en ligne.

Bruce-and-Lydia-Watts
“« Cette expérience a été très intéressante et très enrichissante. L’ampleur des recherches menées actuellement pour combattre et guérir cette terrible maladie m’a beaucoup encouragé. Au cours de cette conférence, nous avons rencontré des gens sympathiques, ouverts et encourageants, qui travaillent tous ensemble à la réalisation d’un même objectif , à savoir améliorer notre qualité de vie et vaincre cette maladie. Cette chance que j’ai eue d’émettre mes commentaires sur la recherche m’a donné le sentiment d’être entendu et compris. À titre de personne atteinte d’une maladie cognitive, ma participation au processus d’évaluation par des pairs a été pour moi une activité très gratifiante.

Si nous voulons combattre l’Alzheimer et les maladies apparentées et en arriver un jour à les vaincre, il est important de poursuivre le financement de la recherche pour les personnes atteintes aujourd’hui et pour les générations futures. »

-Bruce Watts, comité d’évaluation par les pairs 2015, volet biomédical

M. Watt, technologiste médical à la retraite, est atteint d’un trouble cognitif léger. Il bénéficie du soutien de sa femme Lydia et de sa famille.

 

Gail« Cette expérience a été positive et encourageante. Je suis impressionnée par la variété des projets soumis et le processus minutieux mis en place pour prendre les décisions. Les discussions étaient animées et intéressantes, exigeantes et stimulantes.

La recherche sur l’Alzheimer et les maladies apparentées est importante pour moi parce qu’elle nous permettra de trouver de nouveaux moyens de combattre ces maladies et de découvrir un remède. Je m’intéresse particulièrement aux soins de longue durée. »

-Gail Reid, représentante du public 2015, comité d’évaluation par des pairs, volet qualité de vie

Mme Reid, qui est atteinte de la maladie d’Alzheimer, a été travailleuse sociale, rédactrice en chef d’une revue et écrivaine.

 

Sandi
« Je suis atteinte d’une maladie cognitive et je suis heureuse du petit rôle que je remplis au sein de ce comité.

Le processus d’évaluation par des pairs a pour moi été très formateur et très intéressant.

Le financement de la recherche sur l’Alzheimer et les maladies apparentées est important en raison des nouveaux besoins créés par le vieillissement de la population. »

-Sandi Matchett, comité d’évaluation par les pairs 2015, volet qualité de vie

Mme Matchett, représentante de la collectivité, est atteinte d’une maladie cognitive. Graphiste à la retraite, elle aime l’aquarelle et le tennis.

Cracked: New Light on Dementia combines research, dementia and the arts

Cracked: New Light on Dementia combines research, dementia and the arts

In the spring and fall of 2013, I worked with a team of artists and researchers on the play Cracked: New Light on Dementia. I was brought onto the project because of my theatre background and because of my personal and professional experience working with people who have dementia.

The play is intended to inspire alternative ways of seeing people living with dementia, instill the importance of maintaining strong relationships with them, and reinforce the imperative for good ethical care. The play will enhance person-centred care with the help of funding from the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP). The ASRP is funding performances in long term care settings to research how health care workers shift their understanding of dementia after seeing the play.

With the support of an Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creator’s Reserve grant (administered through Theatre Gargantua), I spent a month with the team – two weeks in the spring and then two weeks in the fall – acting as Dramaturge and Assistant Director. This means that I worked closely with the director/playwright, providing insight and support on the development of the script and the performance. I also attended the rehearsals with the performers and researchers, and gave feedback and suggestions as needed.

When I arrived at my first rehearsal, the team had already been working on the piece intermittently for about a year, discussing themes, improvising scenes, and exploring characters, storylines, music and movement, and drawing on the research and professional experience of the research team.

It is difficult to fully express how beautiful it was to watch the actors work, and to see how bravely, spontaneously and creatively they approached the material. In a word, it was breathtaking.

A highlight for me was that, before I came onboard, members of the team had held focus groups and informal conversations with people living with dementia, and these provided valuable inspiration for the creation of the piece. Then while I was there, we had the opportunity to visit a long term care facility, and were able to spend time with some of the residents and there, in both one-on-one and group settings.

The experiences, thoughts, words and insights that were so openly and generously shared with us were brought up and discussed time and time again during our rehearsals. These individuals had made a tremendous impact on all of us, and you can see some of these experiences and insights in the final piece. There is incredible truth in this play.

It was magical to spend so much time with a group of people determined to change negative dementia discourses through the theatre. Art can be a powerful tool for creating social change, as it tends to reach us on a deep and personal level, stirring something in us that perhaps cannot be reached through other means. The magnitude of our responses can sometimes even catch us off guard, and many times in the rehearsal process I found myself brought to tears.

Cracked is a truthful and nuanced story of dementia, where joy and grief, strength and vulnerability, and struggle and peace all come together in an intricate dance. It demonstrates the power of relationships, and, perhaps most importantly, it shows us that who we are – the very core of ourselves – remains intact throughout the dementia journey.

aynsley_moorhouse
Photo credit: Karl Ang

Aynsley Moorhouse, MFA, MSW, RSW

Alzheimer Society of Toronto    

 

 

 

 

The Cracked Ensemble

Director: Julia Gray

Performers: Susan Applewhaite, Lori Nancy Kalamanski, Sarah Machin Gale, Claire Frances Muir, Jason Chesworth, Tim Machin, David Talbot

Research Team: Drs. Sherry Dupuis, Pia Kontos, Gail Mitchell, Christine Jonas-Simpson

Co-Creators: Mark Prince, Mary Ellen MacLean

Set and Costume Design: Lindsay Anne Black

Music Director: Tim Machin

Stage Manager: Elizabeth McDermott

Assistant Director/Dramaturge: Aynsley Moorhouse

Scenic Artist: Ksenia Ivanova

Wardrobe Assistant: Alyksandra Ackerman

 

For performance dates and a full list of acknowledgements and sponsors, please visit: https://uwaterloo.ca/partnerships-in-dementia-care/re-imagining-dementia-through-arts/cracked-new-light-dementia

VIDEO BLOG: ASRP Discoveries – Dr. Joel Ramirez

VIDEO BLOG: ASRP Discoveries – Dr. Joel Ramirez

 

Dr. Joel Ramirez’s open access publication, Subcortical hyperintensity volumetrics in Alzheimer’s disease and normal elderly in the Sunnybrook Dementia Study: correlations with atrophy, executive function, mental processing speed, and verbal memory, is supported by the Alzheimer Society research program.

Synopsis 

In this paper, we looked at signs of cerebrovascular disease on MRI scans of 265 patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 100 healthy elderly people who were enrolled in the Sunnybrook Dementia Study.  Subcortical hyperintensities are bright spots on MRI and are believed to indicate signs of small vessel disease in the brain.  Another example of vascular injury are lacunar infarcts, which appear as dark spots on MRI, and are typically thought of as silent strokes in the brain.  In order to properly measure these signs of small vessel disease and other brain measures from each patient’s MRI scan, we used software called Lesion Explorer, which we developed specifically to study dementia and aging populations.  We then looked at how these signs of small vessel disease were correlated with behavioural functions such as memory or mental processing speed.  After applying Lesion Explorer to the MRI scans, we found that the Alzheimer’s disease patients had less brain overall indicated by less gray matter, less white matter, and more cerebrospinal fluid; but most importantly, we also found that the Alzheimer’s patients had more signs of small vessel disease and silent strokes compared to their healthy elderly counterparts.  We then looked at how these brain pathologies correlated with behaviour and found that signs of small vessel disease in the medial middle frontal part of the brain were correlated with executive function, signs of small vessel disease around the ventricles were correlated with speed of mental processing, and those found in the left temporal lobe were correlated with memory.  These findings reveal the unfortunate reality that people living with Alzheimer’s are also likely to be living with cerebrovascular disease, and where this small vessel disease manifests in the brain is also likely contributing to their dementia.  These signs of small vessel disease may have clinical relevance as potential future targets for treatment in Alzheimer’s dementia.

Read the full publication at: http://alzres.com/content/6/4/49

Joel Ramirez is a 2008 ASRP Doctoral Award recipient from University of Toronto who works under the supervision of Dr. Sandra Black at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.

Up close and personal with Dr. Dawn Guthrie

Up close and personal with Dr. Dawn Guthrie

I was able to help care for my father-in-law in the last year and a half of his life and I have to say it was a real eye-opener.

He had dementia – probably related to a stroke. But here was someone who had been very, very sharp and very independent who increasingly needed more of our help in terms of meals, housework and making sure he took his medications correctly.

We were very blessed in the sense that we were six adults – one of whom was a nurse. But even with that level of support, I saw just how demanding it is.

I don’t think until you do it, you really understand. You see the person you’re caring for in a different way. You watch as they become someone else. It’s difficult to see that. I watched my husband and his brothers struggle to help their dad. They wanted to help of course, but they wanted him to be able to do things on his own because that was who he was – a smart, independent man.

That experience helped me understand care giving from another angle. You can read about it, or talk about it to other people. But it’s not the same thing as day in day out, being responsible for another person, and knowing you might have to drop what you are doing at any given time.

I hope the research I do into caregiver burden will be helpful in a tangible way. That it gives home care professionals the kind of information they need quickly so that it helps them provide the best possible care to the clients they serve and their families.

I want caregivers to know they are important. They are valuable. We want to make sure they get the support they need as quickly as possible.

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Dawn G (Bigger)Dr. Dawn Guthrie, Wilfred Laurier University

Alzheimer Society Research Program grant recipient