Alzheimer education needed

Baby Boomers in Kitimat, like their counterparts around the rest of the country, have a troubling lack of awareness about Alzheimer disease, according to a new on-line survey.

Baby Boomers in Kitimat, like their counterparts around the rest of the country, have a troubling lack of awareness about Alzheimer disease, according to a new on-line survey.

“The gap in awareness in BC is sounding alarm bells as to whether our largest population is prepared for the rising tide of dementia that is ahead,” said Leanne Jones, Kitimat support and education co-ordinator for the non-profit Alzheimer Society of BC.

Perhaps more troubling, she added, is respondents were unfamiliar with controllable risk factors associated with Alzheimer disease, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and chronic depression.

“Awareness and education are the cornerstones for risk reduction particularly since there is yet no cure or treatment to stop the progression of Alzheimer disease,” Jones said.

“People need to take care of their brain health. We need to work together to support those who are already on the dementia journey and to find the causes and cure for this devastating disease.”

Among the findings of the survey was 24 per cent of BC Baby Boomers can’t name any of the early signs of Alzheimer.

This is worrisome, she said, because the risk level for Boomers doubles every five years after age 65.

And Boomers make up almost 30 per cent of the overall population in the province.

In addition, less than half of those surveyed in B.C. were able to identify later-stage symptoms other than the most commonly known loss of memory.

“This indicates a general lack of awareness of life-altering changes such as hallucinations and complete dependency on others for basic care,” Jones pointed out.

Kitimat residents can test their own knowledge by taking the survey at www.alzheimerbc.org/testyourknowledge.aspx.

To help residents with the impact of Alzheimer disease or related dementia, the society runs local support and information groups for family caregivers and for those in the early stages of the disease.

They offer practical tips, a supportive environment, and a chance to learn from, and share with, others in similar circumstances.

For more information on local resources for caregivers, contact Jones at toll-free 1-866-564-7533 or ljones@alzheimerbc.org