Resources for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease

By Valerie
September 16, 2011

I want to thank everyone for their feedback regarding column topics.

I received a variety of suggestions including grief, respite and advocacy. Starting in October, the column will integrate readers’ suggestions.

Any time you wish to submit a suggestion, please e-mail them to me at .

Continuing with the education theme, September’s columns are going to focus on Alzheimer’s disease awareness and resources for family caregivers and those living with Alzheimer’s disease.

A lot of caregivers ask me, “What’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?”

Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to the many different types of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for approximately 64 per cent of all cases in Canada.

Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, Pick’s Disease, Lewy-Body and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Did you know?

One in three Canadians (36 per cent) know someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

(For more facts and figures, please visit and visit Disease Statistics).

There’s a general misconception that memory loss is “just a normal part of aging.” Dementia is a progressive, degenerative disease that destroys vital brain cells. It is not a normal part of aging.

As we age, we can expect that some aspects of cognition may decline including remembering people’s names, recounting facts and words, trying to remember where you put an object, the ability to multi-task and reaction time.

However, there are several areas that don’t necessarily decline with age including vocabulary, decision-making, creativity, ability to learn, being able to use language and processing and remembering new information.

Because we are in “back to school” mode, take a quick test on how much you know about Alzheimer’s Disease. You can find the survey at

The Alzheimer’s Society of BC offers some really good resources on their website as well as free workshops.

One tele-workshop being offered is Driving and Dementia on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. Go to for more information and to register.

Also, a Family Caregiver Education workshop is being offered on Oct. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. in Campbell River.

The workshop provides an introduction to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as well as creative approaches to support loved ones with dementia. For more information or to register, call 1-800-462-2833, or e-mail

Come back in two weeks to read about supporting loved ones with dementia and what support groups are available in the Comox Valley.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Planning. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.

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“You are amazing! What I tried to do in 2 months, you did in 1 week. You’ve helped us navigate the system, made sense of Mom’s disease, and gave back her independence and control. Thank you for making such a difference in Mom’s life and giving us, her family, complete peace of mind.”

– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC