January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that destroys brain cells, causing thinking ability and memory to deteriorate over time. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, and is irreversible.
While Alzheimer’s has always been around, attempts to understand and identify the disease and its impact didn’t come about until very recently in human history. The earliest known case of Alzheimer’s is from a German woman in the 1890’s.
Jennifer Simms, Regional Lead for the Grande Prairie area for the Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta and NWT, explained how they are able to provide help to people in more rural areas.
“Being in rural and remote areas is more difficult all the time, and we are lucky enough with the Alzheimer’s society to have a bit of a silver lining that has come from COVID in the past. We were really able to take our programs and services and put them online, and with having regional offices in Yellowknife, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat, we have been able to increase our support areas.”
With all of these new online services, the Alzheimer’s Society was able to reach out to many more people across the NWT and Alberta, so long as they had internet access.
Simms shared what the process usually is for when an individual is first diagnosed.
“So in a perfect world, the doctors that are giving the diagnosis are in ten offering the person living with dementia as well as a care partner, the opportunity to be connected to the Alzheimer’s Society through the First Length Referral Program. That in turn gets sent to our office and we do an intake with them. We then offer them a suite of services and resources, and we call them a few times a year.”
The Alzheimer’s Society website can be found by clicking here.