In 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimer saw changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died of an unusual mental illness.
According to the National Institute of Aging website, her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behaviour. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles). His landmark discovery led to the disease being named after him.
These plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Another feature of the disease is the loss of connections between neurons in the brain. These connections are important as they are key to transmitting chemical messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body- without them, communication from the brain to the body is impaired, possibility contributing to the manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many resources available for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Due to the increasing help that is needed as the disease progresses it is important to set up care and reach out for assistance when needed. Even during the early stage’s resources can help with coping strategies and new techniques to help adjust to a new way of living. One resource to use is found on alzheimers.ca, which has a First Link Dementia Helpline that offers people help whenever they need it.
Some of the topics found on the website include:
- general information about dementia,
- getting the diagnosis,
- personal planning and more.
- To find more information visit https://alzheimer.ca/bc/en/help-support/find-support-bc/first-link-dementia-helpline
For patients in the Interior of B.C., residents can access information in Kamloops, Kelowna, and Penticton, as well as other communities in Interior Health through Interior Health resources.
Alzheimers.ca also offers several programs and services and states that First Link® dementia support connects people with dementia and their care partners to support services, education, and information at any stage of the journey. Connecting to First Link means you’ll receive the support you need through various sources of information.
Residents of Kelowna have multiple resources available to them. There is the Alzheimer Resource Centre – that services both the Northern and Interior Region and are located at 1664 Richter Street. They are open Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can be reached toll-free at 1-800-634-3399.
Another resource people can access in the Central Interior is Pathways Kelowna – West Kelowna – Lake Country – Peachland. They offer information on various services such as caregiver support networks, early-stage support groups, family caregiver series and more. They also have a page dedicated to community services/programs.
The VGH UBC Hospital Foundation website reports that 62,000 British Columbians have dementia and that number is expected to increase to 87,000 by 2024. Their website provides valuable information about caregiver burnout and what those symptoms look like, such as difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, weakened immune system, irritability or aggression and prolonged lack of energy and a lack of interest in things that used to make you happy.
Among the tips they offer to prevent and treat burnout include spending time outside and exercising, having a proper sleep schedule, taking regular breaks, treating yourself to small pleasures such as a massage or favourite meal and asking for help. Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease is at times stressful so it is important to take care of yourself so you can continue to give the care and support that is needed to your loved one.
For more information about research and potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in your local area please contact the Medical Arts Health Research Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at https://www.healthresearch.ca.