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January is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

Wed January 23, 2013

Dear editor:

Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal disease that affects over half a million aging Canadians. January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and doctors in the province commend the important work of those caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s in Nova Scotia. 

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia accounting for 64 per cent of all dementias in Canada. It’s described as a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, which causes thinking and memory to become seriously impaired.

Dementia consists of symptoms such as loss of memory, judgment and reasoning, and changes in mood, behaviour and communication abilities that affect their ability to function.

Not only does the disease deeply impact those who are diagnosed, it also affects the people who are closest to them. The responsibilities of friends and relatives can quickly expand which can lead to challenges and adjustments. It’s important to understand the challenges and commitments involved in caring for those with Alzheimer’s and to seek support when needed.

If you are providing care for such a person, keep in mind that caregiving isn’t easy. Take time to grow into your new role and adjust to the changes. 

Remaining positive, structuring to your day, acknowledging your feelings, resting when you need to rest, and talking to somebody else who has made the transition are good coping techniques.

Doctors Nova Scotia encourages family members and friends who care for those with Alzheimer’s to seek support and become educated about the disease. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.alzheimer.ca/en/ns


John Finley, MDCM, FRCPC