Bev Hanes sits at a window at the Cafe at Heritage Ranch on the weekend. When home care comes to her home to look after her mother Hanes often goes to the ranch for some quite time.

Chapter educating on Alzheimer’s risk factors

If something slipped your mind, you’re probably having an Alzheimer’s disease moment.

If something slipped your mind, you’re probably having an Alzheimer’s disease moment.

Bev Hanes says most people are used to the jokes about dementia.

“I think you have to have humour or it gets to you too much,” said Hanes.

Her father, Hector McLean, was 83 when he diagnosed with the disease. She remembered keeping things light and allowing her father to do the odd behaviours that weren’t causing any harm.

“You have to look at it as an illness,” said Hanes, 65, whose father died in 2010 at age 90. “And whatever they are doing it’s not that they mean to do it.”

Hanes said they knew the signs of Alzheimer’s disease and knew when it was time to have her father diagnosed.

Recently a national study revealed 50 per cent of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia waited a year before they saw a doctor because they didn’t know the early signs and symptoms.

“People just thought it was just old age or it would just go away,” said Chris Hume, a retired gerontological nurse. “Early diagnosis of a dementia help people get the care they need and the support and the medications so they can live better with dementia.”

Through the local chapter of the Alzheimer Society, Hume is conducting Lunch and Learn Sessions to groups and individuals on ways to reduce the factors associated with the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease, or related dementia, affects an estimated 500,000 Canadians. Health Canada predicts this number will double within a generation.

“Sometimes those statistics are a little scary for some people,” said Hume. “We just want them to know that although there are a number of risk factors there are some things that can be done to reduce those risk factors.”

Early signs or symptoms of dementia can be memory loss that impairs day to day function, poor judgement, problems with language and poor reasoning skills.

Hume said it is never to early or too late to do something about reducing the risk factors. Challenging your brain is one of the top tips.

This may include using your left hand instead of your dominant right hand to brush your hair or to dial a phone number.

“Lots of people don’t realize that just little things like that are good for your brain,” said Hume.

Other tips include staying socially and physically active, making smart food choices, reducing stress, avoid harmful habits and protecting your head.

“Research is telling us there seems to be an increased risk in developing Alzheimer’s disease for those who have experienced head injuries especially those who have had multiple concussions,” said Hume. “You hear a lot of talk of that with boxers and hockey players. Protect your head so if you’re doing some sort of active sport, you should be wearing a helmet.”

For more information on the Lunch and Learn Sessions or the local Alzheimer Society, contact Donna at 403-346-4636.

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