Doctor’s Orders: Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed with proper treatment and research

There’s a common myth about aging that

Dr. Roger Wong

sees as prohibitive for a large segment of the greying Canadian population. People think that memory loss and slower thinking is typical when you get into your later years. That’s just the way it goes, so there’s widespread acceptance and continued decline.

In fact, these are common early signs of dementia, a longstanding health condition that affects the brain and many parts of the different brain functions. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, also called Alzheimer’s dementia.

“Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. And knowing about it early is helpful because it empowers the person living with the disease, their clinician, and their care partners, who are often their families and loved ones, to strategize and figure out how to best support them so that they have good quality of life. So early knowledge is very important,” he says.

Awareness is key for Alzheimer’s disease

Wong is vice dean of education in medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. and a practicing clinician specializing in geriatric medicine and a leader in Alzheimer’s care. He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2020 for his contributions to geriatric medicine, including the advancement of policies, education and culturally sensitive health care.

He’d like to see more awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s because prevalence is predicted to rise exponentially, with serious impacts on healthcare and growing numbers of family members who will take on the role of caregiver, putting their own lives and jobs on the sidelines. He cites the

Alzheimer Society of Canada’s comprehensive Landmark Study

as mandatory reading to get a fuller picture of the future of Alzheimer’s in Canada and what can be done to mitigate “an impending dementia care crisis.” The first of the study’s three reports was released in September 2022.


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