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Living with dementia, a complicated reality

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Pauline Gobeil, a resident of Victoria and a member of the Francophone Assembly of Pensioners and Seniors of British Columbia, is well placed to know that dementia is a burden for those who suffer from it.

For several years, she has accompanied an 81-year-old friend who gradually developed symptoms of dementia.

Over the years, I noticed that his cognitive faculties were beginning to weaken, says Ms. Gobeil. And then there was that one time she got lost, and another one where she ended up in the hospital after taking too much medication and passing out.

Finally, a diagnosis confirms his intuitions. Her friend, whose anonymity she wishes to preserve, suffers from vascular dementia and is transferred to a residence for the elderly.

She is not really aware that she has dementia. She remembers everything that is old, but it is the short-term memory that is defective.

Difficulty finding her words, difficulty expressing ideas, Pauline Gobeil explains that dementia appears periodically in her friend, whose physical condition is also excellent .

There are like plateaus, where things are going very well, then others where it rocks. »

A quote from Pauline Gobeil, close to a person with dementia

Avoid stigma

Pauline Gobeil regrets that dementia is sometimes poorly known or poorly perceived.

Dementia scares everyone. It’s even more scary when it’s a loved one who has itshe explains.

The Victoria resident adds that information is sometimes difficult to obtain and that some families may feel helpless. In the case of her friend with dementia, the language barrier is a major obstacle.

She speaks only French and no English at all. It makes things more stressful and more complicated for her. »

A quote from Pauline Gobeil, close to a person with dementia

In British Columbia, the Francophone Assembly of Retirees and Elders of the province works precisely to raise awareness of dementia through awareness workshops.

A puzzle is assembled at the Alzheimer's Center in Surrey, British Columbia.

A puzzle is assembled at the Alzheimer’s Center in Surrey, British Columbia.

Photo: TurnedNews.com

The federal government has also recently invested in several local initiatives, including one from Simon Fraser University (SFU), which is working on creating specially designed neighborhoods for people with dementia.

It can happen that people with dementia are suddenly disoriented and lost. So the objective of the project is to create, in partnership with the cities, a safe environment for them, for example by rethinking the signage or the sidewalks.explains Habib Chaudhury, professor in the Department of Gerontology at the Simon Fraser University.

The researchers targeted several cities in British Columbia, including Prince George, Richmond and Burnaby.

The first step will be to collect information to know and understand the needs and challenges of people with dementia, says Habib Chaudhury. We will then make recommendations to the different cities.

How to reduce the risks and prevent dementia?

According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with dementia could more than double worldwide by 2050 due to the aging population.

If age is a very important risk factor, it is possible to prevent dementia and reduce the risks from adulthood, according to Aline Moussard, neuropsychologist and research project manager at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal .

A doctor analyzing an x-ray of a brain.

It is possible to improve brain health by changing certain lifestyle habits.

Photo: Getty Images/Chinnapong

The brain is like the heart; if taken care of, it will last longer. »

A quote from Aline Moussard, neuropsychologist

The neuropsychologist, who also offers awareness workshops in British Columbia, mentions several factors that can delay or even prevent dementia from developing.

She cites in particular the practice of regular physical activity, intellectual stimulation activities, quality of sleep, good nutrition and good mental health.

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