Helping spread the word about Alzheimer’s disease


Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and close to 750,000 Canadians have the condition.

Alzheimer’s often presents itself as forgetfulness. As the disease progresses overtime it causes deterioration in patients in all sorts of ways. There can be short-term memory loss and behavior and speech can also be affected.

“My grandfather has had Alzheimer’s for almost 20 years,” says Interior Decorating student Rowen Reid. “He has no idea who he is or who any of my family is now. On a regular visit he might remember something we told him for two minutes. Other than the complete loss of memory, I think he struggles with the fact that he can’t remember why he is in a wheelchair anymore or the fact that his wife – my grandma – passed away almost three years ago.”

The disease can ravage the mind and body for as long as 20 years. The brain slowly begins to fail and the body soon follows.

“We describe it like an onion, memory is like an onion,” says Acclaim Health caregiver education coordinator Sandi Robinson. “When you’re born, you have limited memories, and then every memory you have gets piled on like the skin of an onion. For example, an 85-year-old woman, she has all these memories, she has great-grandkids, and then all of a sudden, dementia attacks the latest memories first. Then she forgets she has great-grandkids, and all the layers get peeled off. Ultimately, they’re unable to retrieve those memories.”

Age is the No. 1 risk factor. The older you are, the more likely you are to get it.

In early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person might forget appointments or where they parked their car. As it progresses, they forget directions, or how to get somewhere they’ve been regularly before.

Patients who lose language skills often learn to communicate with what is known as “heart speak” and “eye speak.”

“We will show him pictures of our family members and himself to help remind him of who we are,” Rowen says. “What we do the most is reassure him that it’s not his fault that he cannot remember us and just overall be patient with him and understanding.”

Acclaim Health, a not for profit health care agency, operates Alzheimer Services, which is located within K Wing beside the Sheridan Centre For Elder Research. It provides  support groups, and a seniors day program. To find out more, contact Alzheimer Services at 905-847-9559. For more info visit