Spring 2021

Moving forward, together

Thank you for your generous support in these challenging times. Your contributions help fund vital programs and services for people affected by dementia, as well as promising research that explores critical and innovative ways to help prevent and treat dementia.

Some of the studies that I’m particularly excited about are finding ways to stimulate immune cells in the brain to protect against dementia; exploring ways to prevent the augmentation of a protein called Pannexin, whose increased function has been associated with neurodegeneration; and, identifying how changes in glutathione — a brain antioxidant — could be used to create targeted therapies. You can read more about this last study in the Meet our Researchers article.

Research is the key to improving lives and ultimately finding a cure. And yet, last year, 80 promising research projects didn’t move forward due to lack of funding. That’s why your continued support is so critical.

Saskia Sivananthan
Chief Research Officer
Alzheimer Society of Canada

The colour of possibility

Pearl lives with Alzheimer’s disease. Like most residents in long-term care homes, Pearl’s day-to-day life was impacted by the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. She could no longer join her friends in the dining room for meals or a cup of coffee. All games and physical activities were cancelled. Pearl’s daughter, Kim, worried about how the changes would affect her mom.

On a whim, Kim gave her mom an adult colouring book and pencil crayons. Although art wasn’t something Pearl had done before, she fell in love with colouring. “It’s such a good pastime, and the time just flies,” she says. Every time Kim visits (wearing a mask), Pearl shares her latest work. “Those are happy times,” says Kim. She adds, “I’ve learned that, although Mom lives with a degenerative disease, her future still holds possibility.”

Grandpa was my best friend: Vanessa’s story

Growing up, I spent endless hours with my grandpa watching movies and eating cheese puffs. He always kept me laughing. When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and eventually had to move into a long-term care home, I visited him often. It was difficult watching the disease progress, especially on days when he forgot who I was.

I wish I had known about the services the Alzheimer Society provides for families like mine — it would have made a big difference in how I handled things.

When Grandpa Lyle passed away in 2015, it shattered my world. At my upcoming wedding, I plan to carry forget-me-not flowers. This way, he’ll be with me in spirit as I walk down the aisle.

Vanessa’s tips for families affected by dementia:

  • Stay positive and try to lift their spirits
  • Remember, it’s not their fault they forget
  • Keep memories alive through storytelling
  • Get support from your local Alzheimer Society

Meet our researchers

Jinghan (Jenny) Chen at Sunnybrook Research Institute is studying the brain antioxidant called glutathione, which protects cells from damage. She plans on using brain imaging techniques to identify changes in glutathione in people with mild vascular cognitive impairment. Her goal is to find a way to target antioxidant levels and increase protection for brain cells, which could result in promising new treatments.

Kishore Rajaram Seetharaman at Simon Fraser University is exploring how to create more supportive and inclusive outdoor spaces for people living with dementia. By helping to enhance their mobility and participation in the community, Kishore hopes to improve the quality of life of Canadians living with dementia.

For more on the research you make possible, visit alzheimer.ca/Research

Canadians take action to support their communities

Every year, thousands of Canadians take part in the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s. 2020 was no different – despite the challenge of a pandemic, Canadians rallied when we moved the Walk online, and raised more than $5 million for people impacted by dementia across Canada. This year we plan to do better. Your local Alzheimer Society will be holding their walk the last weekend of May, 2021 – register now at walksforalzheimers.ca.

How the dementia community impacts research

Craig, living with dementia

In 2020, the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) received over 200 applications for research funding. To identify the most promising research projects and ensure we make the best use of research dollars, we apply a rigorous review process that includes Citizen Reviewers, who are people with lived dementia experiences.

Craig was diagnosed with dementia in 2016. He belongs to various Alzheimer Society support and leadership groups and acts as a public speaker for the dementia community. As a Citizen Reviewer, Craig hopes to help advance research in diagnosing dementia and finding ways to improve the quality of life of those living with dementia.

Barbara, caregiver

Barbara was thrust into the role of decision-maker for her mom after her father died. She hadn’t realized how much caregiving her dad had been providing, and she felt ill-prepared for the practical and legal challenges that lay ahead. Barbara, who is interested in research related to nutrition and brain stimulation, chose to be a Citizen Reviewer because she wants to make a difference in people’s lives and ensure her voice and experiences are heard.

For the results of the 2020 research competition, visit alzheimer.ca/Research

Monthly donor corner: Why I give

I became a monthly donor to honour my grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, and because I believe in the services the Alzheimer Society provides. As a teenager, I had no idea how to be with my grandma or what to talk to her about. I wish I’d known about the Alzheimer Society back then — it would have helped me learn more about the disease and what to do if a loved one has dementia. I give monthly to help ensure that other families have access to helpful information, guidance and support.

- Sara-Michèle Bard

If you’re not already a monthly donor, please consider signing up now to start a monthly gift.

Make an impact for generations to come

You can help save and change lives by including the Alzheimer Society in your Will. After your loved ones are taken care of, you can designate a percentage of the residual of your estate to the Alzheimer Society. Your generous gift will support important research that could turn the tide on dementia, and make sure support is available for every Canadian affected by this ruthless disease.

A gift in your Will has many practical benefits:

  • It is simple and easy to arrange
  • It is flexible — it can be made at any age and for any amount
  • It is a highly effective way to reduce taxes on your estate after death
  • It is personalized — you can choose to designate it to dementia support programs and services or to the Alzheimer Society Research Program

For more information, contact Dana Lecours at 1-800-616-8816 ext. 2951, by e-mail at dlecours@alzheimer.ca, or visit alzheimer.ca/GiftInYourWill

RBC Wealth Management Royal Trust is a proud partner of the Alzheimer Society of Canada Legacy Giving initiatives.

Taking action to improve care

We are interested in the experiences that people have had when interacting with their doctor or healthcare provider about dementia. That’s why the Alzheimer Society, in partnership with the College of Family Physicians of Canada, is conducting a Dementia Journey Survey. By completing the survey, you help us understand how we can improve care and access to care for anyone facing this disease.

To participate in the survey, visit alzheimer.ca/Survey

COVID-19 tips for people living alone with dementia

  • Set reminders to wash your hands — post a note near your door; set an alarm on your phone or computer.
  • Do your best not to touch your face.
  • Take care of yourself — stay active, eat healthy, get your sleep.
  • Stay connected — by phone or try using FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom.
  • Arrange for groceries, medications and other necessary supplies to be delivered to your home.

For more on managing through COVID-19, visit alzheimer.ca/COVID19Tips