As a biomedical engineer, I don’t have your typical background for someone researching Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In fact, if you had told me 18 years ago that dementia would be my main field of research, I’d be surprised. Back then, I was most interested in diagnostic radiology—the field of medicine that uses imaging exams to aid in diagnosis—for the planning of epilepsy surgery.
It’s been four years since my dad, Denis, passed away after living with dementia for 11 years. My family and I did everything to make sure Dad enjoyed life, first during the early stages, and later when he lived in a care home. My experiences with my father inspired me to help others learn to appreciate quality time with a family member with dementia.
Who would I be without my memories? I consider the treatment of dementia to be one of the greatest current and future health challenges, and I am keen to find ways to protect the brain from the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease. However, there’s a lot we still don’t about this disease. I think a key step is to try to diagnose the disease as early as possible before a lot of damage occurs in the brain, so you’re able…
It was a cold, rainy December morning in Vancouver when paramedics spotted a woman in wet clothes, looking out of place at a bus stop. Kathryn had been missing for 27 hours by then. Her daughter had dispatched a small army of friends to look for her after she failed to come home from her walk the previous morning. “It was brutal. I thought she was dead. The paramedics brought her to the hospital and they admitted her,” recalls her…
Imagine if someone you love goes missing. The worry can be agonizing. When the person has dementia, it takes it up a notch or two. That’s why MedicAlert Foundation Canada partnered with the Alzheimer Society of Canada in 2013 to help people living with dementia who are at risk of getting lost. MedicAlert’s service—along with its well-recognized engraved bracelet—was launched in 1961 to help emergency responders treat people quickly and effectively when they couldn’t speak for themselves. .
Did you know that head injuries, and particularly repeated concussions, may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease? A traumatic brain injury that results in the loss of consciousness has been shown to increase the risk of dementia by as much as four times [i]. According to some research, this is because head injuries may increase the levels of protein in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, such as amyloid [ii]. Who is most affected by traumatic brain…
“Your mom is so strong.” These were the words I often heard people say to describe my mom. I never really understood what they meant while I was growing up, being the youngest of six children. Why was my mom this strong person everyone kept referring to?
Previously in our series on human rights and dementia, we looked at how past experiences inspired Phyllis Fehr to advocate for dementia rights (Part one: Becoming a force for change—Phyllis Fehr’s story). Then, Phyllis showed us how seven articles in the United Nations’ Convention of Human Rights can improve the quality of life for Canadians living with dementia right now (Part two: Understanding dementia from a human rights’ perspective).
Thanks to my mother, I learned the values of being a volunteer at a young age. She set up a soup kitchen at my elementary school, ensuring that my classmates coming to school without lunch wouldn’t go hungry. When my brother and sister and I joined the Cubs, Brownies, and Girl Guides, my mother volunteered as a leader. She canvassed for various charities. She was always quick to help whenever someone asked.
I have come to realize five key things about caregiving. These steps have helped my mother, have helped me, and have helped make this year better than the last. Now, I would like to share them with you.