In This Issue
Dementia and Difficult Relationships
Volunteers Still Needed for Minds in Motion® Program
Researcher Works to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Honouring Our Volunteers
Make a Difference This Summer
Invest in Your Brain Health
Celebrating Our Accomplishments
2014-15 Annual Report
Read about our past year of accomplishments in the Alzheimer Society’s 2014-15 Annual Report! This publication was unveiled at the Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, June 24, 2015.
Click here to read the report.
Dementia Friends Canada is a social movement to increase Canadians’ understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia and to apply it to practical, everyday actions that better support people with the disease. Watch this short CTV story to see how easily it can be done.
Dementia Friends brings us one step closer to our goal of a caring community in Manitoba — made up of many dementia-friendly communities, businesses, organizations and services that support the needs of families with the disease.
Click here to learn more and become a Dementia Friend today.
Dementia and Difficult Relationships
Even when the care partner and the person with dementia have enjoyed a loving bond within a marriage or other family relationship, caregiving can be difficult. Care partners find themselves needing to adapt to the changing cognitive and emotional responses in the person with the disease. The care partner may even comment that the person they have loved for many years has now become a different person.
At times, the relationship between the care partner and their family member can be been less than ideal, making this situation even more difficult.
Perhaps the care partner has unresolved feelings for the person with dementia because of past neglect or abusive behaviour. Hurt feelings, anger or bitterness may be the over-riding emotions in a relationship, leaving the care partner to struggle with the responsibility that weighs heavily on their shoulders.
Care partners may feel a sense of responsibility to the person and at the same time have a strong desire to walk away from the situation altogether. In difficult circumstances such as these, how can a care partner reconcile these conflicting emotions?
“It’s not easy, but it is possible for care partners to find a way to move forward, even when emotional closeness has not been the norm,” says Norma Kirkby, Program Director at the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. “If the person can problem solve and find a solution that provides the needed care, yet respects their own emotional unease, they may be able to move forward in a manner that accounts for everyone’s needs. This may mean that a family member chooses to direct the care in their role of health care proxy and/or power of attorney but chooses to use public and private agencies to do the actual hands on care.”
If a relationship with someone has always been disrespectful, it can be easy to be drawn into reliving past wars and dwelling on the negative aspects of the interactions. “Try not to,” says Norma. “If the person is being derogatory or unkind now, and even if they were like this at times previously, remember that it is now their dementia that is driving the person’s emotional response. They are unable to plan their responses or screen their reactions due to the changes in cognition they are experiencing.”
Norma notes that a challenging relationship must not necessarily become a warm one because dementia has entered the scene. “You don’t have to all of a sudden be ‘cozy,’” she says. Coming at the situation from a moral and ethical angle may help. “It becomes about doing what is respectful for another human being.” By looking at care from this viewpoint, the care partner may be able to fulfill their role objectively.
In some instances, relationships actually improve when dementia enters the picture. For example, an adversarial person may lose their stridency and begin to show their vulnerability, giving the care partner a chance to develop a different – and better – kind of relationship. Also, it may happen that the person with dementia doesn’t remember what they didn’t like about the relationship with the care partner. “All they know is that now the care partner is helping them, and to the care partner’s surprise, the person shows appreciation and gratefulness,” says Norma.
Whatever the circumstances, whether caring for a person with whom past relationships have been demanding and emotionally draining, or someone with whom you have a warm relationship, remember the importance of self-care. It is important to seek support from friends, professionals and agencies.
“Caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Kirkby. “Remember the Alzheimer Society is here to help you. Please call. Don’t face this life journey alone.”
Volunteers Needed for Minds in Motion® Program
The Alzheimer Society needs 10 to 12 volunteers for the Minds in Motion® program. This program focuses on promoting physical activity, socialization and mental stimulation for people with dementia and their care partners. Click here to find out more about the program.
As a Minds in Motion® program volunteer, you will:
- help with the set up and clean up of refreshments, games and activities for the social part of the program
- assist the program facilitator to ensure activity participation and socialization
- under the direction of the fitness instructor, provide one-to-one guidance assisting participants during the fitness part of the program
Click here to see a detailed volunteer position description.
Brent Aulston’s grandfather had early-stage dementia and passed away while Brent was very young. He never had the opportunity to get to know his grandfather and is now working hard to ensure others get the chance to know theirs.
Brent is a 2015-2016 recipient of the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba Graduate Student Fellowship award. He is a Ph.D student in Dr. Gordon Glazner’s lab at the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre and is interested in the connection between Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
“One of the things we notice about a brain with Alzheimer’s disease is that it behaves like it has diabetes with respect to insulin; there is a close link between insulin signaling and the processing and degradation of amyloid beta plaques, a defining characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease,” he explains.
Brent hypothesizes that he will be able to slow or even stop the creation of amyloid plaques by using stem cells to produce secreted amyloid precursor protein alpha (sAPPα) in the brain. “People with Alzheimer’s disease have reduced sAPPα levels in the cerebrospinal fluid which many contribute to the neurodegeneration that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease,” he says.
One of the challenges with treating the brain is getting past the blood-brain barrier. The brain insulates itself from the rest of the body, making it difficult for pharmaceuticals (drugs) to be effective. This is one of the reasons Brent has decided to focus on using modified stem cells.
“We are going to use a direct delivery approach, which means injecting stem cells that are modified to overproduce sAPPα directly into the brain of an animal with Alzheimer’s disease. The idea is that these stem cells will then elevate sAPPα levels in the brain which will hopefully prevent amyloid beta overproduction and activate protective insulin signaling pathways,” he explains.
Brent hopes this will be a clinically viable way to deliver the protective factor. This procedure has potential to prevent and fight Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related dementias. If his research project is successful in animal models, it will pave the way for potential human trials in the future.
“I want to do what I can so others are able to experience life with both their grandparents. Everyone always says what a charming, smart and incredible guy my grandfather was and I never got to experience that,” he says.
We look forward to seeing the progress in Brent’s research.
Honouring Our Volunteers
Every day, volunteers dedicate time and energy to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. They do it for many reasons. Maybe they reached out for help from the Society when a family member faced the challenges of dementia and they wanted to give back. Perhaps they see a need in the community for expanded services. Or maybe they simply have generous spirits and want to help make the world a better place.
Here are two individuals who continue to leave their marks on the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba through volunteerism. To acknowledge their contributions, they are being honoured with the Distinguished Member and Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Awards.
Distinguished Member: Bob Knight
Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease himself, Bob has advocated on behalf of people with dementia, sending letters to the government on how workplaces should be inclusive and accommodating of people with the disease.
Bob has helped reduce the stigma surrounding people with dementia by being a voice for change and an advocate for himself and others like him. It was his desire to see dementia care and research was at the forefront and he felt that being public about the disease was a way for him to raise awareness and gain support.
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Verna Mowat
Verna started donating in 1989 and hasn’t slowed down since. She has hosted an annual Coffee Break® event at her farm since 2007. She also puts her pottery skills to use for fundraising; she sells homemade ceramic pins at community markets and donates the proceeds to the Alzheimer Society. All of her efforts have raised over $3,500.
Verna’s dedication is born out of her desire to help make a difference in the fight against dementia. Through her own experiences with family members, she has seen the effects first hand and is concerned about the toll it takes on families.
Make a Difference This Summer
Turn your marathon, company BBQ or family celebration into a fundraising event and help support the work of the Alzheimer Society. Through Anything for Alzheimer’s, you can set up you own fundraising page and track your progress.
Click here to learn more and start fundraising today.
Invest in Your Brain Health
You CAN do something about dementia. This video gives you four simple steps for a brain boost to protect yourself against dementia.
This summer, take the steps to get your mind and body healthy! The four things you need to remember are:
- Challenge your brain
- Eat Right
- Get Social
Click here for more information about your brain health.
A person with dementia may be admitted to a hospital for a procedure or following a medical emergency. The change in environment and the unfamiliar surrounding can be confusing and frightening for the person with dementia. To help the person adapt to this change and make the stay as comfortable as possible, family and friends should consider the following:
- Communicate openly with staff. Work together by asking for and providing relevant information that will help everyone better understand the person’s medical condition, day to day needs and care plan.
- Bring important items to the hospital:
- List of medical conditions
- List of medications with dosage and times given
- Emergency contact information
- Personal items that provide reassurance i.e. pictures, special pillow, spiritual object
- Music cd or favorite book
- Share personal information with staff to help them provide person centred care:
- The person’s preferred name
- Cultural or religious needs and preferences
- Names of close family members or friends
- Past occupation
- Particular interest (hobbies, pets)
- Inform the staff of pertinent day to day care and health information:
- Basic details about the person’s dementia i.e. specific diagnosis
- Cues to assist with medication administration (time of day, type of fluid, other preferences)
- Sleep routines – time that patient goes to bed and gets up, bedtime rituals
- Mealtime routines – time for meals and food preferences
- Bathing routines – shower or towel bath, or separate hair washing
- Discuss with the staff how you may assist in personal care such as bathing, mealtime or taking the person to the toilet.
- Plan for the transition when the person is discharged from hospital. Ensure that someone will be able to assist with transportation, welcoming the person home or to a new housing option.
- If the person is in the later stages of life, make arrangements with staff for longer family visits, opportunities for ritual practices and discussions pertaining to health care decisions.
- Seek help from others so that you, the caregiver, can regain both physical and emotional energy as you support the person you’re caring for.
One of the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease is problems with language. Changes may include forgetting simple words or substituting words; trouble following or joining a conversation; or becoming repetitive.
A study led by Dr. Barbara Lust from Cornell University in New York state evaluated early changes in the language of individuals who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also revaluated the concept of regression or reversion in the language domain – which essentially means that the most recently acquired memories are lost first while older memories are retained longer. This concept predicts what is often observed in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
The study comparatively tested language patterns among children, young adults, healthy aging adults and people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) as well as language changes among the adult groups.
Results show that those with MCI do not lose language abilities in the reverse order in which they acquire them; in fact they do best on structures which the child acquires last. This outcome is contrary to common belief about regression or reversion.
Certain aspects of complex sentence formation appear to be more affected in individuals with MCI then amongst people experiencing normal healthy aging and young adult groups. This factor is independent of performance on the cognitive and memory tests, and thus appears to be specifically linguistic. Analyses suggest that the difficulty for people with MCI lies in problems in combining the sentence structure and the meaning or real world components of language. It does not appear to be solely a problem with grammar or composition alone.
Further studies are warranted to validate these outcomes. If future studies show similar results, the language changes observed may play an important role in predicting Alzheimer’s disease. The study is also an important reminder of the variability in cognitive and language functions among adults.
Awareness and recognition of the early warning signs can help a person to receive a diagnosis in a timely manner. Early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia is critical to ensuring proper support, care and treatment of the illness.
To read an article about this study, go to this link http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/04/language-loss-study-reveals-early-signs-alzheimers-disease
To learn more about the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, visit our website alzheimer.mb.ca/warning signs
2015 Fall Calendar
Click here for a sneak peak at upcoming education and weekly programs happening this fall! Online registration will be available in August.
Care4u Family Conference
A Conference for Family and Friends Caring for a Person with Dementia
Saturday, October 31, 9 am to 3:30 pm
Canadian Mennonite University, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB (Map)
Click here for more information
Click here to register
An eight-week program uniting families and community members with individuals who are experiencing the early stages of dementia.
Starting Thursdays, October 7 to November 25, 10:00 am to 11:30 am.
For more information, contact Client Services at 204-943-6622, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcoming Support Groups
Some support groups for family and friends are taking a summer break. The Winnipeg support groups for people with dementia will be taking a break during August and resuming in September. Check with your group facilitator or the regional office nearest you to learn more about the date and time of the next group meeting. The Alzheimer Society’s family support staff are here to help – contact us at email@example.com, 204-943-6622 (in Winnipeg) or 1-800-378-6699 (in Manitoba).
Touch Quilt Presentations
We are also proud to announce that the Touch Quilt Project has a new Silver Sponsor! Jessica Phillips-Dubois has generously donated $2000 to the program. Thank you Jessica!
Click here for more information about the Touch Quilt Project.
20th Annual Motorcycle Poker Derby
Get your motors running! Join motorcycle enthusiasts and Alzheimer Society of Manitoba supporters at the 20th Annual Motorcycle Poker Derby in Brandon, Manitoba, on Saturday, August 15, 2015.
Click here to register online or for more information.
20th Anniversary of Coffee Break®
Hosting a Coffee Break® event during September and October is an easy and fun way to show your support for people affected by dementia in your community. Participants at these events make a donation in exchange for a cup of coffee.
Click here to register online or for more information.