Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's Disease


Do you think Alzheimer’s is real? People like me or YOU are NOW becoming caregivers for this progressive disease. If you have this in your family, read on.

by Adinah East VP Quality Improvement

The Major Benefits of Alzheimer’s Home Care

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia is challenging. The patients have specific requirements when it comes to their care. The challenge for caregivers is taking of their own family and holding down a job while still seeing to their relative’s care needs. For these caregivers, some areas of their life may suffer, but the good news is that help is available in the form of professional Alzheimer’s home care.

Alzheimer’s Home Care – How It Works

Alzheimer’s home care options mean that there is professional and compassionate care available for your relative. In-home care services can include a broad range of assistance that gives both the patient and caregiver much-needed relief. The staff is experienced in dealing with confusion, anger, fear, paranoia, and the sadness that often plagues Alzheimer’s patients. Often, these patients suffer mood swings which make it difficult for loved ones to look after them. In-home care staff is trained specially to care for and understand the needs of such patients.

With Alzheimer’s home care options, you can be assured that your elderly relative is receiving proper care. Professional caregivers can help with tasks such as:

  • Laundry
  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Housekeeping
  • Changing linen
  • Assist with bathing
  • Help with using the bathroom
  • Conversation
  • Companionship
  • Administering medication
  • Assisting with dressing the patient
  • Shopping
  • Running errands
  • Meal preparation
  • Transportation

If you are overwhelmed with the task of looking after someone who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, but you are agonizing over the decision to place your relative in a care home, home care services may be the solution. Alzheimer’s does require increasing levels of care as the patient’s disease progresses.

With an in-home care agency, you don’t have to worry about a caregiver’s level of training or compassion. The staff is usually put through a thorough screening process and are then put through extensive training so that they can adequately and compassionately take care of your relative.

Preparing for the Road Ahead – Start Early

As you come to grips with your relative’s diagnosis, you will deal with a variety of emotions and concerns. You will likely worry about how he or she is going to change, how to keep them comfortable, and how the disease may affect your relationship. Adjusting to this new reality takes patience and time, but most importantly, you are going to need support.

During the early stages of diagnosis, there are a few questions to consider. By preparing early, you can ensure a smooth transition for all involved. Depending on the stage of your relative’s diagnosis, you may be able to include them in the decision-making process.

A few questions to consider when going through Alzheimer’s home care options include:

  1. Who will make financial and medical decisions when your relative can’t?

It’s a difficult topic to approach, especially if your loved one is still relatively lucid, but getting their wishes written down means, they will be respected by everyone involved. Remember to appoint a power of attorney for their healthcare and finances, and if your loved one has already lost capacity, they will need a guardian.

  1. Who will meet his or her care needs?

Often, family members assume that a spouse or the closest family member will become a caregiver. This isn’t a realistic option since caregiving is a significant commitment. Looking into professional Alzheimer’s home care will lift the burden off family members and ensure your loved one is properly taken care off in their senior years.

  1. Where will your relative live?

Is your loved one’s home suitable for him or her to remain in or is it difficult to access? Will you be able to make it safer as the disease progresses? If your relative lives alone, or quite a distance from family, you may want to consider relocating your loved one and them employing in-home care services.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. Keeping your loved one in his or her home can go a long way towards minimizing their confusion and discomfort, and will ensure they are surrounded by the things that are most familiar to them. With Alzheimer’s home care, you can have peace of mind knowing your loved one’s needs are well taken care of.

How are we doing in Canada?


It can begin as a terrible headache, one worse than the usual grind. It could progress to your limbs feeling weak on one side of your body, or trouble walking, garbled speech, or a loss of vision.

Experiencing these symptoms may mean you are having a stroke. With June being Stroke Awareness Month in Canada, doctors are advising that the key to reducing the risk of stroke lies in prevention.

“Heart disease and stroke is the leading cause of death and hospitalization in Canadians,” said Diane Shanks, director of Emergency, Critical Care Medicine and Cardiorespirartory at Chinook Regional Hospital.

“People that develop those diseases early on, about 80 per cent of them are probably preventable. If we can focus on any aspect of this, it’s probably the prevention opportunities that people hear about all the time, but we still have a long way to go for people really acting upon those.”

Reducing risk begins with eating a healthy diet, watching your intake of salt and sugar, maintaining an active lifestyle and quitting smoking.

“Those are all things completely within our control, and those are things that have a really, really big impact on your risk for heart disease and stroke,” said Shanks.

It’s estimated there are 1.6 million Canadians living with heart disease or the effects of a stroke, according to The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain (ischemic stroke) or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). Both cause brain cells in the affected area to die.

If the stroke is caused by a blood clot, there are certain medications for qualified patients that can break up the clot to try to return blood circulation to the brain, said Shanks. Sometimes patients must be sent to Calgary hospital for further intervention.

The hospital is a busy place, with high volumes of people using the emergency department and challenges having enough beds for patients, said Shanks. By making healthy lifestyle decisions, the public can ease the burden on health system resources.

“We admitted approximately 200 patients in this past year as a result of stroke and stroke-like symptoms, and almost double that for emergency department care. We certainly have a high incidence of it,” said Shanks.


To determine if you or a loved one is experiencing a stroke, use the acronym FAST, which stands for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time, explained Corinna Hartley, stroke co-ordinator.

“Face – if you see any facial drooping or asymmetry in the face; Arms – if you ask somebody to raise their arms and they cannot do it or have difficulty; Speech – any speech problem, garbled speech, or cannot get words out. Those are the three key warning signs that will enact someone to call immediately. T stands for Time.”

If anyone experiences any of those symptoms, they should call Emergency Medical Services, or 9-1-1, as soon as possible.

Going to a clinic can delay treatment, said Hartley, whereas EMS staff are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke and will bring the patient to the hospital.

“Time really is brain,” she said. “Call EMS, 9-1-1, get the patient seen so that they can be diagnosed and get quick treatment.”

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability, with approximately 400,000 Canadians living with the effects of stroke. It can take many months or years of therapy to recover or partly recover from a stroke.

Through an Alberta Health Services program launched just over one year ago, some patients can recover in the comfort of their own homes with the assistance of an expert team comprised of rehab therapists, physiotherapists, speech pathologists, and recreational therapists.

“They will actually go to their home and work with them in their home to help with their recovery in an environment that is more familiar to them and more conducive to their recovery. It allows them to walk their own stairs at home and those sorts of things,” said Shanks.

For more information on stroke and heart disease, visit

Melissa Villeneuve
Lethbridge Herald
Follow @MelissaVHerald on Twitter

Time for a change?

My wife decided to take a vacation…away from me.  I think is fantastic that she is visiting her mom; they have such a great time together!  Thinking back, I think this vacation was good for me too.  I have had time to think about where I am now and where I want to go. I concluded that I am going about it WRONG.

I have been making calls for three years and thought I would be turning it around.  After reviewing my calls today, it doesn’t appear to be working.  Maybe I should be spending more of my time writing?  Will that bring people to me?

It’s clear I need to change SOMETHING!  Will this be the key?  They said this would be difficult; I just didn’t know HOW difficult.

I will write back in two months and let you know how the NEW plan is working.  It is Time for a change!

Dos and Don’ts While Waiting for an Ambulance

Posted by Lisa O’Neill Hil

Your friend is over for dinner. She’s sitting at the table, fork in hand. All of a sudden, she drops the fork and she looks scared. You ask her what’s wrong, but she’s having trouble talking. You notice that one side of her body appears to be weak, and her mouth is drooping. You know what that means; she’s had a stroke.

You immediately call 911. But you don’t know what you to do while the ambulance is on its way. Is there anything you can do to help your friend? Or should you just wait until the paramedics arrive?

It’s important to be prepared for a medical emergency. Read on to find out what you should and shouldn’t do while you’re waiting for help.


  1. Use the word “stroke” when you call 911.
  2. Tell the 911 operator where you are if you’re calling from a cell phone in case the call drops. You should also give the operator your cell phone number.
  3. Stay on the line with the 911 operator and follow his or her instructions.
  4. Keep the person safe. If she’s conscious, place her on her side. Her head should be slightly raised and supported.
  5. Loosen clothing that could get in the way of breathing.
  6. Note the time. This is important information for doctors.  Most strokes are caused by blood clots. The clot-busting medication tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can only be given within a few hours of the start of symptoms.
  7. Tell emergency responders what you saw and heard. Describe your friend’s symptoms.
  8. Stay with her. Your friend will be scared.
  9. Remain calm.
  10. If your friend is unconscious, check her pulse and her breathing and start CPR. If you’re unsure how to do that, the 911 operator will walk you through it.
  11. Unlock the front door so paramedics can get in quickly. The 911 operator may tell you to do that or tell you to open the front door ahead of time. With stroke, the sooner the patient receives treatment, the better the chances of survival and recovery.


  1. Drive her to the hospital yourself. A stroke is a medical emergency. Paramedics will let doctors in the emergency room know they are on their way with someone who has had a stroke. The hospital will prepare for the arrival ahead of time.
  2. Give her anything to eat or drink. This could cause her to choke.
  3. Give her any medication, including aspirin.

My poor Husband…

In case you read Gordon’s post from yesterday–I am sorry.  After he wrote about struggling with speech, he noted that he was going to write an “FU” script.  Please know that in his mind, that meant a ‘Follow Up” script, not a middle finger script.

I asked him if he read that post out loud so he could hear how it sounded BEFORE he clicked Publish.  He said yes and was a little offended at the implication that there were problems with it.  After all, he spends a lot of time writing those posts.  When I read it out loud to him, we both had a good laugh.  Thank God that through all this, Gordon has kept his sense of humor.

Although he didn’t mean it to be this way, Gordon’s last post demonstrated his difficulty with language and organized thinking.  We have been talking about his aphasia for 6 years.  Suddenly, for some unknown reason, he latched onto it this week as if it were a big surprise.  Is his sudden awareness of language difficulty a step forward or a step backward?

Jill Viggiano

We are back!!!


IMG_0398IMG_0399IMG_0412OK…these aren’t the BEST pictures (these are pictures of PICTURES), but it showed what a great time we had in Disneyland.

It was finally time to take a vacation; I felt a little burned out.  I missed our kids. The days were just dragging.

But that 5 days completely turn Jill, the kids and me around.  I feel revised and even more optomistic.  I can’t wait to get back to work.

Be ready for my call!