eNewsletter June 2014

In This Issue

Top Research Award Goes to Winnipeg’s Own Dr. Gordon Glazner   
Two Student Researchers Receive Funding 
Keeping Your Brain Healthy 
Connecting With a Person Through Sensory Stimulation 
Caregiving Tips
Upcoming Education
Upcoming Events


You Are Invited

Please join us as we celebrate a year of accomplishments, recognize our dedicated volunteers
and honour those who have lost their lives to dementia.

Wednesday, June 25
Alzheimer Society – Provincial Office 
10-120 Donald Street, Winnipeg, MB

5:15 pm – Reception
5:45 pm – Volunteer Recognition & Tree of Memories Ceremony
7:00 pm – Annual General Meeting

RSVP to Trudy Mattey by Friday, June 20 at tmattey@alzheimer.mb.ca or 204-943-6622 ext 214.


Tree of Memories Ceremony

Honour the memory of your loved one by adding a commemorative leaf to our Tree of Memories
at the Annual General Meeting.


For a gift of $250 to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, you will receive an engraved brass leaf with the name of your loved one. If you wish, you will have the opportunity to say a few words as you personally place your leaf on the Tree.

To purchase a leaf or to participate in this ceremony, contact Trudy Mattey by Friday, June 20 at tmattey@alzheimer.mb.ca or 204-943-6622 ext 214.

Top Research Award Goes to Winnipeg’s Own Dr. Gordon Glazner


Dr. Gordon Glazner wants to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and he just got a big dose of encouragement to continue his quest.

A neurobiologist, Dr. Glazner is the Principal Investigator for the Division of Neurodegenerative Disorders at the
St. Boniface Research Centre in Winnipeg, MB, and Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba. His ongoing research into Alzheimer’s disease has earned him the top funding award from the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) for 2014.

The ASRP funds research that offers the best hope of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias through its annual peer-reviewed funding competition provided through the Azheimer Society of Canada. Dr. Glazner is a fitting recipient of this award: with his exciting discoveries and theories, his research is definitely moving in the direction of finding a cure.

The current focus of Dr. Glazner’s research is the recently discovered connection between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. “People with type 2 diabetes have two to three times the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease,” he explains. ”In type 2 diabetes, the body’s insulin receptors in all parts of the body, including in the brain, become insensitive, and therefore sugar in the blood is not dealt with. In response, the body produces more and more insulin until the system crashes and insulin production stops altogether.”

In people with Alzheimer’s disease, the insulin receptors in the brain, but not in other parts of the body, act as though they are diabetic. This has lead researchers to further investigate insulin in the brain to see if there is some connection to Alzheimer’s disease.

In the course of this work, Dr. Glazner made an important discovery: the insulin receptors in the brain are the same receptors used by a protein called Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP). Like insulin in the brain, APP is known as a trophic protein, which is responsible for brain health, but in people with Alzheimer’s disease, this protein is jeopardized because of the presence of a toxic, sticky protein called Amyloid Beta (Aβ). The presence of Aβ in the brain is associated with the production of APP, but it is also known that the more APP in the brain, the less chance there is of Aβ overproducing and causing problems.

This knowledge gave Dr. Glazner the idea for his current research: flood the brain with APP by injecting it using a person’s own stem cells as the carrier; with APP circulating widely, the insulin-APP receptors may become sensitive again and reduce the amount of damaging Aβ from being produced.

The ASRP funding is a two-year grant that will help Dr. Glazner and his team to continue their ongoing research into Alzheimer’s disease. If successful, this particular project will be the basis for the development of a treatment for the disease, bringing us one step closer to the goal of a cure.

About the Alzheimer Society Research Program

The ASRP is supported by Alzheimer Societies across Canada and their generous donors. It funds emerging and established investigators working in the biomedical and quality-of-life fields. The program was established in 1989 and has, to date, invested over $43 million in research. This research is needed to keep pace with the increasing prevalence and impact of dementia. Currently, 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and by 2031, that number will reach 1.4 million.

Two Student Researchers Receive Funding

Reseach 3The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba is proud to announce the 2014-15 recipients of the Graduate Student Fellowship Research Program, which provides awards in two research areas: biomedical and psychosocial.

Chris Cadonic is a master’s student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Manitoba who is studying
computational modeling of mitochondrial energetics in Alzheimer’s disease.

Terresa Miller, a graduate student in Psychiatric Nursing at Brandon University, is exploring couplehood in situations
where one spouse has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease
and resides in long term care.

Congratulations to Chris and Terresa for their accomplishments!

Keeping Your Brain Healthy

Senior couple on cycle rideYour brain works better when you take care of your body.
A combination of exercise, a healthy diet, mental activity and socialization contributes to a healthy brain.

Dr. Kristel van Ineveld, a geriatrician at St. Boniface Hospital, says that of all the things we know are good for our bodies, exercise is number one. She explains that, even if you haven’t been very active in the past, beginning to exercise later in life can still provide great benefits.

“Exercise makes blood flow, and there is evidence that this creates new brain cells. We also know that even if you’re in a nursing home and you’ve only just started to exercise, your muscles will get stronger and your circulation will improve,” says Dr. van Ineveld.

For a lot of people, aerobic activity, which includes walking or cycling, is the right amount of physical activity. In addition to aerobic activity, people should also try muscle resistant exercises, such as weight lifting or working with exercise bands. Exercising in mid to later life is especially important in order to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

A healthy diet works hand in hand with exercise. Dr. van Ineveld encourages a Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of fruits, vegetables and cheeses. She suggests choosing white meat and fish as a healthier alternative to red meat. Whole or complex grains are also a smart choice.

A healthy brain also needs a healthy heart. Try to keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight at healthy levels. Avoiding heart disease is important, as twenty percent of diagnosed dementia cases are vascular dementia. Vascular dementia occurs when the cells of the brain die because they have been deprived of oxygen and nutrients due to an interruption of blood flow to the brain, leading to impaired functions.

Heart disease is ultimately a disease of the blood vessels that surround the heart. Dr. van Ineveld says lack of exercise, a poor diet and smoking can cause blood clots in these vessels.

“The same disease that affects blood vessels sending oxygen to the heart is also impacting the vessels that send oxygen to the brain. If you already have Alzheimer’s disease, damage in the brain due to disease of the blood vessels will make the Alzheimer’s worse,” says Dr. van Ineveld.

If you’re thinking about exercising your body, you should also be thinking about exercising your mind. You can challenge your brain by trying a variety of puzzles, being socially active or attending a club that interests you.

“It’s important to stay physically, mentally and socially active,” says Dr. van Ineveld. “If physical activity is new to you, start by going for a walk every day to get a breath of fresh air. That’s a huge start.”

Connecting With a Person Through Sensory Stimulation

sensory room 2The lights are dimmed, music is playing softly and glass tubes filled with bubbles are changing colour. These are the first things you’ll notice when walking into the Sensory Stimulation Room at Donwood Manor.

The sensations experienced when walking into the room can help a person to feel calm and safe. Most importantly, they can stimulate people with dementia and offer a chance for them to make a connection.

“The room works to bring down a person’s stimulation if they’re distressed or calling out.
It also works for someone who is passive and needs to have more stimulation,” says Karen Scott, Therapeutic Recreation Facilitator at Donwood Manor.

Karen and other staff who are trained in sensory stimulation will bring a resident into the room and work with them one-on-one. Although the project is still fairly new at the personal care home, Karen has already seen its benefits.

“We use many different strategies to engage a person. When we bring someone into the room, sometimes just a hand squeeze or a flutter of the eyes is a big deal,” says Karen.

The room includes different materials that can stimulate a person’s senses, such as fibre optic lights that change colour, sand, sensory balls, beads and much more. Residents are able to play with whatever object interests them, use their fine motor skills and even control colour changes and sounds by pressing a button on a controller.

“Looking at the fibre optic lights is calming and interesting. Most residents like to touch the lights, but some just enjoy watching them change colour. One resident would say the colour each time it switched; she’d say ‘green’ if it was green, and when it was white, she’d say ‘that’s lovely’,” says Karen.

Karen says a busy personal care home can sometimes cause a person with dementia to become upset or distressed. The Sensory Stimulation Room allows these residents to spend time in a calm and relaxing environment.

The funds to start up the room and purchase the equipment were donated by the family of a former resident of Donwood Manor. Karen hopes to get more staff trained to use the room so residents can be brought in anytime there is a need, even if it’s three o’clock in the morning. The room helps stimulate senses for some people more than others, but the goal is to create changes for each person who experiences the room.

“Interacting with all the different sensory materials can change people’s attitudes altogether, which makes the rest of their day better,” says Karen.

Caregiving Tips

tipslogoSensory Stimulation
Sensory stimulation uses everyday objects to arouse one or more of the five senses with the goal of evoking positive feelings. By focusing on a specific sense, the person with dementia can explore familiar smells, movements, textures, sights, sounds and tastes that bring pleasure or relate to his/her previous life experiences. Sensory stimulation can lead to relaxation and improve alertness to and awareness of the environment.

Here are things you can do with or for the person you care for:

  • Make/give them a touch quilt
  • Share cookies of their favorite flavour
  • Bring objects that they do not normally have around them, such as sand or seashells
  • Play music and tap rhythm on the person’s hand
  • Read a book aloud together
  • Give a hand massage
  • Introduce finger painting
  • Encourage clay work
  • Smell fresh flowers or potpourri
  • Stroke an animal
  • Enjoy the warmth of a sunny day
  • Provide a change of scenery by taking them to the garden or a park
  • Visit an herb garden or a flower show
  • Attend short musicals or outdoor concerts

Sharing sensory experiences with a person with dementia can lead to positive feelings of well-being for both of you. Choose an activity and enjoy!

Upcoming Education


SpeakUpSpeak Up: Advocacy Skills for Caregivers
Wednesday, June 18
7 pm to 8:30 pm
The Wellington Retirement Residence
3161 Grant Ave., Winnipeg, MB (map)
Click here for poster
Click here to register



Care4u picCare4u:
A Conference for Family and Friends
Caring for a Person with Dementia

Saturday, November 1
9 am to 3:30 pm
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd.
Winnipeg, MB

Click here for more information 

Upcoming Events

MemoryWalkMemory Walk

Throughout the month of June, thousands of walkers throughout Manitoba will raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. The money raised helps support programs and services for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, as well as the search for a cure.

The Winnipeg Walk takes place Thursday, June 12, 2014 at The Forks Scotiabank Stage!

Click here for more information
Click here to register online or call 204-943-6622.


MotorcycleDerbyBrandon Motorcycle Poker Derby

Rev your engines and support the Alzheimer Society.
Join us for the 19th Annual Motorcycle Poker Derby!

Saturday, August 16
9 am to 7 pm
Brandon, MB

Click here for more information
Click here to register online, or contact mloewen@alzheimer.mb.ca