Protecting brain health

Faye Stephenson remembered the signs of a friend with Alzheimer’s disease and knew she likely had it too.

Faye Stephenson remembered the signs of a friend with Alzheimer’s disease and knew she likely had it too.

It started with curling, a sport she thrived at. Now the rocks were “going helter, skelter.”

The avid cook also found it tough to follow a recipe.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks is one warning sign.

“I had a hunch that something wasn’t right,” said Stephenson of Red Deer.

Her doctor immediately gave her a test and referred her onto a neurologist. Soon after, she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain.

She hadn’t yet reached 65 — the age when Alzheimer’s or related dementia starts to become prevalent.

Approximately 500,000 Canadians live with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Within 25 years, that number may reach between 1 million and 1.3 million.

Donna Durand, regional manager with Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories, said it’s vital that everyone tries to protect their brain health.

This includes having social relationships, eating healthy, getting exercise — all things that Stephenson strives for.

She also has a positive attitude.

“We keep on going,” said Stephenson, who turns 66 next month. “Every day is going to be a good day.”

Bill Stephenson credits his wife for “approaching the disease with such bravery and composure.”

Stephenson will be joined by Bill and their four children at Investors Group Memory Walk, which runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 20, at Sunnybrook Farm Museum. She is this year’s honourary chairperson.

The goal is to raise $30,000 for information, education and support, as well as fund research on the national level.

For more information on registering, call 403-346-2540.

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