Senior Scene September 17, 2018

World Alzheimer’s Month is the international campaign every September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. World Alzheimer’s Day is on September 21st each year. The impact of World Alzheimer’s Month is growing, but the stigmatization and misinformation that surrounds dementia remains a global problem, which requires global action.

The world’s population is ageing. As of 2015, there are over 46 million people worldwide with dementia. This figure is set to increase to more than 131 million people by 2050.  Dementia primarily affects older people. Up to the age of 65, dementia develops in only about 1 person in 1000. The chance of having the condition rises sharply with age to 1 person in 20 over the age of 65. Over the age of 80, this figure increases to 1 person in 5.

The most common early symptoms of dementia are:

  • Memory loss – Declining memory, especially short-term memory, is the most common early symptom of dementia. People with ordinary forgetfulness can still remember other facts associated with the thing they have forgotten.
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks – People with dementia often find it hard to complete everyday tasks that are so familiar we usually do not think about how to do them.
  • Problems with language – Occasionally everyone has trouble finding the right word but a person with dementia often forgets simple words or substitutes unusual words, making speech or writing hard to understand.
  • Disorientation to time and place – We sometimes forget the day of the week or where we are going but people with dementia can become lost in familiar places such as the road they live on, forget where they are or how they got there, and not know how to get back home.
  • Poor or decreased judgement – People with dementia may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers of clothes on a warm day or very few on a cold day.
  • Problems with keeping track of things – A person with dementia may find it difficult to follow a conversation or keep up with paying their bills.
  • Misplacing things – Anyone can temporarily misplace his or her wallet or keys. A person with dementia may put things in unusual places such as an iron in the fridge or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
  • Changes in mood or behaviour – Everyone can become sad or moody from time to time. A person with dementia may become unusually emotional and experience rapid mood swings for no apparent reason.
  • Changes in personality – A person with dementia may seem different from his or her usual self in ways that are difficult to pinpoint. A person may become suspicious, irritable, depressed, apathetic or anxious and agitated especially in situations where memory problems are causing difficulties.
  • Loss of initiative – A person with dementia may become very passive, sitting in front of the television for hours, sleeping more than usual, or appear to lose interest in hobbies.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or are concerned about a friend or relative, visit your doctor and discuss your concerns.  More information is available on these websites https://www.alz.co.uk or www.alzheimer.ca/hpe or you can call (613) 962-0892.

Last call to register for our “55 Alive” driver refresher course on Wed. September 26th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Belleville office.  Lunch, refreshments and course materials are provided for a small fee of $35.00.  Please call Lana at 613-969-0130 to register.

 

Information in this column is compiled by Shell-Lee Wert- Executive Director of CCSH, 470 Dundas Street East, Unit 63, Belleville, K8N 1G1.  Please visit our website at https://ccsh.ca, or email me at shell-leew@ccsh.ca or check out our CCSH Facebook page, or call 613-969-0130 or 613-396-6591 for information and assistance.  CCSH is a proud United Way member agency.  Funding in part from the South East Local Health Integration Network