But from the moment my mother and grandmother shared with me my grandfather's diagnosis, everything changed. Though my role as national director of sales and marketing memory care for one of the country's largest providers of assisted living was still the same, my motivation was completely different.
It is not always easy to recognize elder abuse, particularly if you are the victim. Yet elder abuse is, unfortunately, prevalent in our society. The good news is that there is increased awareness with respect to the existence of elder abuse and its many forms, and numerous resources available to help.
As Alzheimer's disease progresses and the person becomes more and more disconnected from the world around them, caregivers so often, and so unintentionally, lose their way. That's okay, in part because there's no manual for this, no right or wrong. But there are ways that caregivers, like Ed's, can reconnect with their loved one.
Even if your loved one has never been an avid gardener, introducing them to blooms now could be a good idea: this green hobby has been shown to benefit dementia and Alzheimer's patients. Long-term care facilities sometimes refer to it as horticultural therapy -- the connection that dementia patients develop to past and future through tending plants, indoors or out.
When I first launched the Women's Brain Health Initiative a few years ago, my primary goal was to create awareness about women's brain aging disorders. It was shocking to me that women suffer from depression, stroke and dementia twice as much as men as they age, but brain health research was male-focused.
Twenty per cent of older adults live with a mental health issue. In Calgary alone, that equates to over 21,000 older adults, with between 1,000 and 2,000 living with severe and persistent psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia and delusional disorder. These figures do not take into account individuals between 45 and 65 who have lived a higher-risk lifestyle and been intermittently homeless. Such individuals age more quickly than the general population, and often present as "functionally geriatric" well before the age of 65.
A new study published in the journal Neurology suggests that a simple test measuring how fast people walk and whether they have cognitive complaints can predict later problems with dementia. The developed assesment will potentially allow for many more people to know whether they are at risk without complex testing.