In 1906 woman died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behaviour. After she died, her doctor Alois Alzheimer, examined her brain. He found many abnormal “clumps”, now called amyloid plaques, and tangled bundles of fiber, now called neurofibrillary. This landmark discovery led to a diagnosis now known as Alzheimer’s disease.
The plaques and tangles in the brain of this woman back in 1906, are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Another feature of the disease is the loss of connections between neurons in the brain. These connections are important as they are key to transmitting chemical messages between different parts of the brain. And from the brain to muscles and organs in the body. Without these connections communication from the brain to the body is impaired. Researchers suspect this is a major contributing factor to the manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many resources available for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. As the disease progresses, patients need increasing amounts of help and care. For this reason it’s important to make a plan as soon as someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Even during the early stages resources can help with coping strategies and new techniques to help adjust to a new way of living.
Residents of Kelowna have multiple resources available to them. There is the Alzheimer Resource Centre – that services both the Northern and Interior Region. The Center is located at 1664 Richter Street. They are open Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can be reached toll-free at 1-800-634-3399.
Another resource people can access in the Central Interior is Pathways Kelowna – West Kelowna – Lake Country – Peachland. They offer information on various services such as caregiver support networks, early-stage support groups, family caregiver series and more. They also have a page dedicated to community services/programs.
The VGH UBC Hospital Foundation website reports that 62,000 British Columbians have dementia. This number is expected to increase to 87,000 by 2024. The UBC website provides valuable information for both patients and caregivers. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be stressful, resources for caregivers can help you find coping strategies and communities with like-minded people.
For more information about research and potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in your local area please go to our Alzheimer’s study page. We also offer Memory Testing in the communities of Penticton, Kamloops, Kelowna and Vancouver.