Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Alzheimer Month In British Columbia


From time to time, people forget: a number, a name, a notion. As time passes, people with Alzheimer’s disease forget more and more: where they are, what they do, who they are. To remember the 64,000 British Columbians affected by this devastating disease and the efforts being made to improve their quality of life, the Province of British Columbia is joining with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. to proclaim January as Alzheimer Awareness Month.

“Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias take a terrible toll not only on those suffering from these degenerative brain disorders, but also on their families and caregivers,” said Health Services Minister George Abbott. “Government is investing in the search not only for a cure, but for a better life for the thousands of British Columbians and their families struggling with the disease.”

Alzheimer's disease destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behaviour severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time. And Alzheimer’s is fatal – with no cure and no treatment to prevent it.

While Alzheimer’s can develop in adults at a younger age, it occurs most commonly in people over 65. Alzheimer’s is not, however, a normal part of the aging process.

To improve quality of life for British Columbians struggling with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, the Province is funding research to find a cure and better treatments. The Province is also investing in new models of care that will provide people with dementia the best care possible, based on best practices and established evidence.

Fulfilling a throne speech commitment, the Ministry of Health Services provided a $25 million grant in 2008 towards a new Centre for Brain Health to be built at University of B.C. Hospital. This world-class facility will benefit patients through a direct collaboration between research and clinical services. In 2006, the Province provided a $15 million grant to the Pacific Alzheimer Research Foundation to support new research aimed at unravelling the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

To bring together British Columbians receiving, planning and delivering dementia care and services, the Province granted $1-million to the Alzheimer Society of B.C. in 2007 for implementation of the Dementia Service Framework. This grant is funding seven initiatives, each involving one of the health authorities, using a person-centred approach to develop improvements and new strategies for dementia care in every part of the province.

In October 2007, Premier Gordon Campbell announced that, for the first time, the Province would provide PharmaCare coverage of Alzheimer’s medications for people in the early to moderate stages of the disease as part of a $78-million, three-year study. The Alzheimer’s Drug Therapy Initiative is gathering clinical evidence on the benefits of cholinesterase inhibitor medications and their impact on quality of life for both individuals and caregivers.

“These substantial investments will positively impact people with dementia and their family caregivers as well as physicians, nurses and others who provide direct care,” said Rosemary Rawnsley, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. “To complement these high-level commitments towards research and improved care, we’re also engaging the community, to reduce the fear and stigma associated with Alzheimer’s so that all who are touched receive a timely diagnosis and effective support, as well as the opportunity to plan for the future.”

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is dedicated to helping anyone concerned with or facing dementia have the confidence and skills to maintain quality of life, to ensuring that public policy and perceptions reflect the issues and reality, and to securing funding for support and research.

Since 2001 the Province has invested more than one billion dollars in research and innovation, including significant investments in research to improve treatments and seek cures for major health-care challenges such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression and spinal cord injuries.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, living with or caring for someone with the disease, or to learn what you can do to reduce your risk, visit the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s website at


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