New study calls for action to reduce dementia risks

A new study released by the Alzheimer Society of Canada forecasts a tripling of the number of people living with dementia across the country by 2050. However, modelling shows that there may be ways to reduce the impact of the disease. 

The new report, called “Navigating the path forward for dementia in Canada,” is the first volume of The Landmark Study, which has been prepared by the Alzheimer Society of Canada. The study, being released as three reports, represents the most significant update of the dementia prevalence in Canada and its forecasted growth since the Society’s “Rising tide” report, which was issued in 2010. 

The two subsequent volumes, which will shed light on the economic and social impact of dementia in Canada over the next three decades, will be released later this year. 

“As Canada’s baby boomer generation continues to age, the number of people in Canada living with dementia will rise significantly over the next 30 years,” says the study’s author, Dr. Joshua Armstrong of the Alzheimer Society of Canada. “The impact of this change, both on the number of people living with dementia and their care partners, can be lessened if governments and individual Canadians are prepared to take action to reduce the modifiable risk factors associated with the onset of dementia.” 

Among the highlights of the report are:  

·        In 2020, an estimated 597,300 people were living with dementia in Canada. By 2050, we can expect this number to almost double to one million. By 2050, this number is expected to triple to 1.7 million.  

·        Across Canada in 2020, care partners – including family or friends – spent approximately 26 hours per week supporting daily activities and tending to the daily care needs of people living with dementia. This figure is equivalent to 235,000 full-time jobs and valued at more than $7.3 billion annually. 

·        Here in British Columbia, an estimated 50,400 family, friends and neighbours provided support to people living with dementia in 2020. This is projected to increase to 144,900 by 2050. The overwhelming majority of care partners are adult children and spouses, 88 per cent of whom are of working age. Women continue to disproportionately bear caregiving responsibilities. 

·        Juggling caregiving responsibilities with career and other family demands may force care partners to exit the workforce prematurely, which will have a significant socioeconomic impact on Canada’s work force and people’s financial stability. 

·        If current trends continue, the number of hours of support provided by caregiving partners within Canada could reach almost 1.4 billion hours annually by 2050. That is equal to over 690,000 full-time jobs. In British Columbia, this figure will reach 198.3 million hours annually by 2050. 

·        The report highlights three hypothetical scenarios in which the onset of dementia for British Columbians is delayed by one, five or 10 years. While no specific assumptions were made as to how to achieve these reductions, the scenarios illustrate the power of risk reduction at both a population and individual level. If we were able to defer the onset of dementia by five years, we would see the number of individuals living with dementia in British Columbia in 2050 drop from an estimated 247,300 to 145,500. 

·        If we were able to defer the onset of dementia by 10 years, the estimated number of persons living with dementia in British Columbia would decrease to 76,400. 

·        We would also see an accompanying decrease in the total number of care partners and the annual number of hours of support provided. 

“We hope this study will remind Canadians that dementia is not part of the normal process of aging and that there are steps people and institutions can take to reduce risks of dementia,” says Kevin Noel, Interim CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada. “Governments at all levels also have a role to play by providing funds for dementia research and supporting programs that help people living with dementia and their caregivers to have the best possible quality of life.” 

In B.C., the report has found that 85,800 people are living with dementia across the province, but projects as many as 247,300 people will have a diagnosis by 2050. “B.C. is expected to see one of the most dramatic increases in the number of people living with the disease over the next 30 years,” says Jen Lyle, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. “We need to start taking action to ensure that supports are in place to mitigate the impact and ensure people affected by dementia are not facing it alone.” 

To learn more about the report, people can visit alzbc.org/landmark.  

To access help, visit www.alzheimerbc.org or contact the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s First Link® Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033. The Helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information and support is also available in Punjabi (1-833-674-5003) and in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007), available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Alzheimer Society of B.C. encourages residents to plan ahead

Older adults and people with dementia in Nanaimo have an increased vulnerability to extreme heat. This week’s surging temperatures make this information and tips especially timely.

Last year, the province’s unprecedented heat dome and wildfire season had a fatal impact on some B.C. residents. This year, these same emergencies and disasters could happen unexpectedly. 

These situations can be particularly challenging for people in Nanaimo living with dementia to respond to and get the appropriate help they need. 

The high temperature of 49.6°C was recorded in Lytton on June 29, 2021, 4.6°C higher than the previous Canadian record. The high outdoor temperatures and intense solar radiation led to very high indoor temperatures for people living in buildings without air conditioning.

The associated health-related risks leave some Nanaimo residents potentially more vulnerable. Research suggests that older adults and people living with dementia have an increased vulnerability to extreme heat. Factors that place people at risk during high temperatures include living with a disability, physical or mental illness, social isolation, a lack of access to resources, communication difficulties and spending the majority of their time indoors. 

The heat can result in an increase in emergency room visits, hospitalizations and even death.

Research also shows that higher temperatures may be associated with worsening the symptoms of dementia.

Sixty-one per cent of people living with dementia live in the community. “Dementia can affect a person’s ability to communicate their needs and recognize when to ask for help, making them particularly vulnerable to uncertainty and emotional trauma caused by the heat or other emergency situations,” says Rosanne Philbrook, Support & Education Coordinator, First Link®, for the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s North & Central Vancouver Island region. 

“We encourage everyone to take some time to connect with your neighbours, friends and family who are affected by the disease – including caregivers – to offer your help and make sure they are safe."

Besides heatwaves, wildfires are common in the summer. These emergency situations will disrupt the routine of someone living with dementia.

“In some cases, they have limited ability to understand what is happening and might be confused in an unfamiliar place during an evacuation and might take a while to adjust to a new environment,” says Philbrook.

Planning ahead, therefore, is vital for alleviating the stress of someone living with dementia caused by the sudden changes in locations and environment. Creating an evacuation plan to ensure a quick response in an emergency and packing an emergency kit are both crucial. 

Here are a few quick tips to stay cool:

* Stay in areas with air conditioning, including community centres, shopping malls and any cooling centres set up by municipal governments.

* Drink plenty of water or juice throughout the day.

* Wear lightweight and light-colour clothing.

* Take note of signs of heat strokes and other heat-related illnesses.

"Remember to stay updated with current news and alerts with trusted media and authoritative sources, including the B.C. emergency alert messages sent to our wireless devices to make informed decisions," says Philbrook.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is here to help

The Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s First Link® Dementia Helpline ensures that families and care workers can connect to knowledgeable and supportive staff and access trusted resources on emergency preparedness. The Helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information and support is also available in Punjabi (1-833-674-5003) and in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007), available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

 

Central Island residents learn value of physical activity for brain, mobility health

220605 – The Alzheimer Society of B.C. continues to provide Central Island  residents affected by dementia with resources through its regular webinar series. One upcoming event includes “Physical activity for your brain and mobility health,” exploring the relationship between exercises and brain health.

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose will discuss her research, which focuses on understanding the role of exercise in promoting cognitive and mobility outcomes in older adults.

As the B.C. population is aging, it is essential to promote active aging, which helps maintain overall health and quality of life. People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop heart disease, stroke and diabetes – all risks associated with dementia.

Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, nourishing the cells with nutrients and oxygen. Regular exercise also helps reduce stress and improve your mood.

Dr. Liu-Ambrose, PhD, PT, Professor, is a physical therapist and a Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia, Department of Physical Therapy. She directs the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Health Laboratory as well as the Vancouver General Hospital’s Falls Prevention Clinic.

The free online session takes place on Wednesday, June 15 at 2 p.m. Central Island residents can register at alzbc.org/physical-activity-brain-mobility

Upcoming webinar sessions also include:

  • Long-distance caregiving (Wednesday, June 22 at 2 p.m. PT): Practical tips on providing meaningful caregiving support from a distance. For caregivers.
  • Commonly asked questions about dementia (Wednesday, June 29 at 2 p.m. PT): Join us for a panel discussion where we respond to some of your most commonly-asked questions.

To learn about other upcoming webinar topics, please visit alzbc.org/webinars.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is here to help

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is committed to ensuring that people affected by dementia have the confidence and skills to live the best life possible. First Link® dementia support is the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s suite of programs and services designed to help them. First Link® is available throughout the progression of the disease, from diagnosis (or before) to end-of-life care.

Connect to First Link® by asking your health-care provider for a referral or by calling the First Link® Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033. The Helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information and support is also available in Punjabi (1-833-674-5003) and in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007), available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dr. Gloria Puurveen

Dr. Heather Cooke

Webinar in session

Alzheimer Society helps Nanaimo families get most benefit from care conferences

When a person in Nanaimo living with dementia moves into long-term care, attending care conferences becomes part of the process, ensuring that everyone involved in the care team provides the best care possible.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is helping local families make the most of the conferences. It’s offering a new webinar, Understanding Care Conferences.

The Alzheimer Society has invited Dr. Gloria Puurveen and Dr. Heather Cooke to speak about their experiences with families affected by dementia and discuss what to expect at a care conference. The session will cover what questions to ask, what documentation is needed in advance, and tips for effective communication with the care team. 

As a researcher who is passionate about understanding the experiences of older adults and people living with dementia, Dr. Puurveen focuses on dementia experiences in relation to "living well" to the end of life, personhood and social citizenship. Dr. Cooke has more than 25 years of experience working in dementia care, in both a front-line and research capacity. 

Previously a research associate at the UBC School of Nursing, she now works at the Alzheimer Society of B.C., where she leads the organization’s knowledge mobilization efforts.

The free online session takes place on Wednesday, May 18 at 2 p.m. PT. To register visit alzbc.org/care-conference.

Upcoming webinar sessions available to Nanaimo families and caregivers also include:

* Understanding communication changes (Wednesday, May 25, 2 p.m. PT): Explore how communication is affected by dementia and learn effective communication strategies.

* Living safely with dementia (Wednesday, June 1, 2 p.m. PT): Explore how people living with dementia and their families can live safely in the community.

* Focus on behaviour: Understanding behaviour changes (Wednesday, June 8, 2 p.m. PT): Learn practical strategies to better understand changes in behaviour and respond in supportive ways.

To learn about other upcoming webinar topics, visit alzbc.org/webinars.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is here to help

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is committed to ensuring that people in Nanaimo affected by dementia have the confidence and skills to live the best life possible. First Link® dementia support is the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s suite of programs and services designed to help them. First Link® is available throughout the progression of the disease, from diagnosis (or before) to end-of-life care.

Connect to First Link® by asking your health-care provider for a referral or by calling the First Link® Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033. The Helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information and support is also available in Punjabi (1-833-674-5003) and in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007), available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteers drive the Alzheimer Society key fundraiser

Walk for Alzheimer’s participants

National Volunteer Week at the end of April provides an opportunity to recognize the key role volunteers play in Nanaimo and other communities around the province. 

This is especially true of the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s flagship fundraiser, the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s. 

Every year, volunteer committees – including one in Nanaimo -- organize, promote, fundraise and build awareness of the Walk and the cause. It is because of their commitment and passion that the Alzheimer Society can run this successful event to support crucial programs and services for British Columbians affected by dementia. 

“We are so grateful to all the volunteers who help with the Walk. Every year, we are deeply impressed by the generosity and dedication they display when it comes to supporting British Columbians on the dementia journey,” says Cathryn France, Director of Resource Development at the Alzheimer Society of B.C. “Our volunteers are the main force behind our event. They raise awareness about the disease and they help us make a difference in the lives of people affected by dementia.”

After a two-year hiatus on in-person events, Nanaimo participants will be walking in person again to raise funds and awareness on Sunday, May 29. Thousands of British Columbians will join the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s and raise funds to ensure that people affected by dementia have the tools to live their best life possible. 

To register or make a donation, visit alzbc.org/walk. The site will also give you the option to “walk your own way” at a time and date of your choice. And until May 29, registrants will have the opportunity to win $1000.00. Visit alzbc.org/walk  for details. Who will you walk for?

If you are affected by dementia, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can help. Call the First Link® Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033 or visit alzbc.orgto learn more.

Brain Awareness Week –support the Alzheimer Society of B.C.

March 14 – 20 is Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign that encourages people to think about their brain health. It’s also the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s first call for Nanaimo residents and other Central Islanders to register for the charity’s flagship fundraiser, the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s. It takes place in person in Nanaimo and other communities across the province on Sunday, May 29, 2022. 

The Walk brings together thousands of people across the province with a common mission: to raise funds to support people living with dementia and enable research into the causes and cures. 

It’s also a way local families and caregivers can celebrate and remember people in their lives who have been affected by dementia. Funds raised allow the Alzheimer Society of B.C. to provide programs and services to people in the region who are affected by dementia. 

“During Brain Awareness Week, we’re thrilled to be announcing the return of an in-person event later this spring,” says Cathryn France, director of resource develeopment at the Alzheimer Society of B.C. “Many of our supporters participated in our virtual events in 2020 and 2021, but it’s so meaningful to be able to walk together to show our support for people affected by dementia in our local communities.” 

While the causes of dementia still elude us, we know that being physically and socially active can reduce risk of developing the disease. “The IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s is a great way to get some exercise, be social, and raise funds for an important cause,” says France.

While events typically take place in over 20 communities across the province on May 29, the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s “Walk your way” option allows supporters to also walk at a time and place of their choosing. 

Visit walkforalzheimers.ca to register, fundraise and learn more about the Nanaimo event. To learn more about dementia and risk reduction, visit alzbc.org/walk.

January is Alzheimer's Awareness month

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. offers support and education for people affected by dementia, accessible anywhere in the province.

211213 –At the end of this year of COVID outbreaks, extreme weather and evacuations, people living with dementia and their caregivers in the Central Island face more challenges than ever before. It’s never been more important to support them. 

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is gearing up for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in January 2022. Nanaimo residents will have the chance to hear the stories of community members affected by dementia and learn how they can show up for the people in their own lives who are affected by the disease.

In the meantime, people in the area affected by dementia still need your help. At a time when kindness is needed more than ever, gifts made to the Alzheimer Society of B.C. will go twice as far to fund critical programs and services for people around the province who are affected by dementia. Thanks to a group of generous donors, every donation made up to December 31 will be matched up to $85,000.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. connects people living with dementia, their caregivers and family members to support and education at any point in the disease through First Link® dementia support. Nanaimo residents can connect to support by asking their health-care provider for a referral or by calling the First Link® Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033. To learn more about the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month visit alzbc.org/AAM2022 or to make a donation this December, visit alzbc.org/holidaygiving.

Alzheimer Society of B.C. campaign invites Nanaimo residents to help change the future for people affected by dementia this January

1222 – In an increasingly uncertain world, people in Nanaimo living with dementia and their caregivers are facing more social isolation than ever before. To help them, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is gearing up for its 2021 Alzheimer’s Awareness Month campaign, held annually in January. 

Throughout the month, residents can learn more about how they can take individual action to help change the future for British Columbians who are living with dementia and hear the stories of people affected by the disease.

As part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, residents will be invited to “Raise your voice: Dementia, long-term care and COVID-19” on January 27, a special webinar sponsored by Clark Wilson LLP. It features a panel discussion on the challenge of balancing health and safety concerns with ensuring that families can support people living with dementia in long-term care to stay active and engaged. 

In the meantime, people affected by dementia still need your help. At a time when kindness is needed more than ever, gifts made to the Alzheimer Society of B.C. will go twice as far to fund critical programs and services for people around the province who are affected by dementia. Thanks to a group of generous donors, every donation made up to December 31 will be matched up to $85,000.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. connects people living with dementia, their caregivers and family members to support and education at any point in the disease through First Link® dementia support. 

Residents can connect to support by asking their health-care provider for a referral or by calling the First Link® Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033. To learn more about the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month or to make a donation this December, visit alzbc.org/future.