The Alzheimer’s Society Saskatchewan made a return visit to the Reid Thompson Library for its ABCs of Dementia presentation. The important information was passed along to attendees by First Link Coordinator Nicole Werner. 

Key on the list of things to know about the series of disorders that fall under the scope of dementia is the ability to recognize signs and an understanding of what dementia is. 

“Essentially, dementia is any type of Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body. Frontal Temporal Dementia – they all fit within this,” Werner explained. “Dementia is used to describe a set of symptoms including memory loss, difficulty with problem solving, changes in mood or behaviour. The earlier you can recognize these, the earlier you can get help to manage them.” 

A general physician can help with the identification and offer referrals for testing, so that’s most often the best place to start. The Alzheimer Society Saskatchewan has offices throughout the province with supports and information, both in print and online. Werner talked about some of the most common diagnostic tools.  

“Looking at brain scans allows you to see what part of the brain is being affected by dementia and a determination of what kind it is. If it’s in your frontal lobe, it’s going to affect your personality more.” 

Other tests include questionnaires, performance and acuity tests, and documenting behaviour patterns, among others. Some conditions can mimic dementia, Werner said, including undiagnosed sleep apnea.  

Werner clearly stated that dementia is not simply a matter of age, nor should it be considered a normal part of aging. Research continues to target causes and to come up with treatments to mitigate the symptoms and prolong cognitive capacity.  

“Dementia diagnosis provides access to a lot of evidence-based treatment, care and support. The earlier you’re able to know what’s going on, the earlier you can make choices and lifestyle changes that might help.” 

Werner also went through examples of lifestyle changes that promote brain health and potentially delay the onset of dementia and slow its progression. Some of these include cognitive exercises like playing music or language learning; staying socially connected; eating a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake. 

There is much more information available, along with connections to support personnel, at the Alzheimer Society Saskatchewan webpage.