There is no cure for dementia – but with a lot of effort and more resources devoted to the problem than ever before, we’re hopeful that the answer is out there. In the meantime, here’s a quick roundup of some of those efforts we find so inspiring:
Walk for Memories in BC. 24 communities in BC are participating this year with Alzheimer BC’s initiative to raise funds to help the 70,000 locals affected by dementia and support research as well. Each year, this event raises awareness and much-needed dollars to assist in understanding the science of dementia.
It’s just locally, of course…
Ottawa families walk to fight dementia. We often see that it’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things, such as this group from Ottawa that’s aiming to raise $10,000 this year for the Alzheimer Society Walk for Memories.
Participant Kat Clarida, like many others, found a deeply personal reason for helping:
Clarida said she first started noticing signs of dementia in her mother, Thelma, when she started leaving notes to remind herself about things.
“I found notes all over the place about all kinds of things, from daily self care to cooking to everything,” she said. “It became really clear one day when I found a note and her writing was all gibberish. It was just letters on a paper.”
Technological Advances in Dementia Support
For now, managing dementia symptoms with at-home caregiving and other support is how we operate. But technology is making that easier.
For instance, caregivers often worry that dementia sufferers will wander off and become lost. In severe cases of dementia, a last resort can be institutionalization. Now researchers in Alberta are studying the possibility of using GPS trackers to give people coping with dementia more freedom:
“This is giving both her the freedom to do what she loves … to go where she wants, and gives us peace of mind, “Tim said.
When Allison goes beyond range, Tim receives an alert in the form of a text message.
“It tells me what direction she’s going and what speed,” he said. “Then it does a map of the neighbourhood with a pinpoint exactly where she is.”
Meanwhile, in a rapidly-aging Japan, scientists are trying to solve the issue of emotional withdrawal and communication problems in people with dementia by using (what else?) robots:
The company plans to develop a program to provide better support for dementia patients, such as by adding a function to encourage the elderly to talk about their memories. “Pepper, who is indefatigable, can always be there as a conversation partner,” Hayashi said.
I’m not sure how well that solution would work in a North American environment but am curious to see the results of Pepper working with patients. In a world of scarce resources and high demand, robots might be part of the long-term solution.
Still Alice. Raising Dementia Awareness in Pop Culture
Have you seen Still Alice yet? The film has already won a Golden Globe for Julianne Moore’s acting – she depicts a professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve seen major films dealing with dementia before, but every bit helps to raise awareness about symptoms, prevention and ways to help family caregivers cope with a challenging situation. Importantly, it also helps communicate how the person with dementia sees their situation. From Under the Radar:
In preparation for her role, Julianne Moore spent time visiting Alzheimer’s care centers and speaking with people battling various stages of the disease. The actress credits much of her performance to those living with the disease who were willing to share their experiences with her.
“People with Alzheimer’s don’t feel seen,” says Moore. “I think a lot of the time it’s [because] we look the other way. It’s hard to look at, and they feel like there’s some kind of a shame attached to cognitive decline.”
There are always hopeful signs out there for people coping with dementia. Let us know about the stories that inspire you!