Category Heading Suppport

Support Groups

We have a variety of support groups for both the care partner and for the person living with dementia. Below you will find information on the different types of groups and how to connect to them.

· Living with dementia for those with the disease

· Care partner support group – Time to Talk

· Grief Support group

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First Steps

Have you just been diagnosed with a memory problem? This section will help answer those questions you may have about the disease and treatments available. You will also be guided on where to go from here.

I am only 55 years old and am experiencing some memory changes. Am I not too young to get dementia?

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There is a form of dementia that can start before the age of 65. It is called Early Onset or Younger stage dementia. Making an appointment to speak to your doctor, getting a proper diagnosis and connecting early to the Alzheimer's Society can help ease the worry about memory loss. Getting a full physical will also help in eliminating other possible causes of memory loss. For example: stress, depression, sleep deprivation, vitamin deficiencies, substance abuse, some medications can change memory as well. Once these have been ruled out then a referral to a neurologist may be the next step in finding out why there is a memory loss.

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What would be the benefits to investigating memory loss?

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No all memory loss is the beginnings of a dementia so making sure that all memory loss is investigated is an important first step. Getting a diagnosis early on in the dementia journey can help you get connected to the appropriate supports in your community as well as make preparations in your life for a time in the future where you may not be able to care for yourself or make decisions. This may include writing a will to settle your estate as you wish. Establishing a Power of Attorney for your financial decisions while you are still alive but cannot make those decisions. And establishing the Power of Attorney for Health care Decisions for those decisions that will arise in the future regarding who will care for you and how they will do this. An early diagnosis can also help with a treatment plan of proper medication for the type of dementia as well as life style changes that can enhance health. A change of diet, adding an exercise regime and connecting with a local social club or group will help to establish healthy behaviours for now and the future. There are also many programs at your local Alzheimer Society to participate in that will help you maintain and stimulate your brain.

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How do I prepare for my doctor's appointment?

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When a memory problem is discovered the first step is usually making an appointment with a general practitioner. Using this work sheet will help you as well as your health care provider specifically look at the symptoms you are experiencing and will also help you remember what to ask the doctor once you have the appointment.

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What is the First Link program?

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The First Link program is a referral service that connects families and the person living with Alzheimer's disease and a related dementia directly to the Alzheimer Society in their location. This connection will provide the family with much needed supports, counselling and education to help on their journey. Referrals can be made through a health care professional.

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What is First Steps for families?

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First Steps for families is a psycho-educational program for families that have just been diagnosed with a dementia. It is attended by the carepartner and the person living with dementia. The program consists of education on the disease, planning for the future, safety planning and understanding the community supports that are available. It is the first step for many families.

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I am experiencing problems with my memory. What's my first step?

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The first step would be to make an appointment with your family doctor in order to be assessed. Typically an assessment for memory problems would include a full physical, collection of blood and urine, a full medical history and a memory test. There is no formal diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or related disease, but these other tests can help your doctor eliminate other possible reasons for your memory loss.

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What are the other causes of memory loss?

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Some other causes of memory loss could be:vitamin deficiencies, delirium, stroke or other vascular issues, concussion, medication side effects among other things.

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What can I do to keep my brain healthy?

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There are many things that can be done to help our brains stay healthy and functioning. A good healthy diet following Canada's Food Guide is a great place to start. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, low in fat and starches helps keep our heart functioning at full capacity in order for our circulatory system to provide much needed oxygen to our brains. Exercise is also recommended with at least 30 minutes a day of brisk walking. This can be done in 10 minute intervals throughout the day. Another brain healthy activity is being socially active. Join a club, volunteer, go out with friends, go to the local community centre or older adult centre to take part in activities every day. If you are not able to go out brain 'games' are another way of keeping your brain active: crosswords, puzzles, word searches, reviewing your basic math and language skills, learn a new language or practice an old one. Anything that keeps us engaged in life and stimulated every day is a great way to stay health and age well!

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I've been diagnosed with dementia. What now?

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This can be a frightening and confusing time. Connecting with friends and family can help with the confusion of this diagnosis. Having the doctor connect you to the Alzheimer Society in your area can help make sure that you are well connected to the supports, education, and community agencies that you may need now and in the future.

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I am not sure if I want to tell my family and friends.

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Receiving a diagnosis for any health care issue can be a confusing time. At first you may want to keep the information to yourself as you may be unsure of what the diagnosis means for your future. Having a support network that may include family and close friends may be necessary for helping you to sort out questions and concerns about your future as well as having someone to talk to. You may also be still working and active in your community. Having a support network in your community will also be helpful as those around you may have noticed some changes in you. These individuals may also have questions. Perhaps your employer can set up some accommodates in your job or in your work day so that you can continue to work and be productive. Often people think that a diagnosis of dementia means that they will have to stop everything in their lives now. This is not the case. What will work for you will need to be discussed either with the family or a counsellor if you do not feel comfortable in advocating for yourself. There is also a stigma around this disease that can only be lessened the more we learn about the disease and help you to advocate for your needs.

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I've been given some "memory" pills, how will they help me?

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At the present moment the most common way to treat Alzheimer's disease and related dementias is through medication to enhance memory, thinking skills, language and mood. How these medications work is through their ability to preserve the functions of the nerve endings in your brain cells to transmit messages from one cell to the next. There has been much success for some people in the early stages with taking medication. Being active and staying physically and mentally active in addition to taking medication has shown positive results in slowing the progression of the disease. At this time there is no known cure for dementia but researchers are actively pursuing many positive studies in hopes for a cure in the future.

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