Organizers gear up for early onset Alzheimer’s event

  • Oct. 14, 2015 3:23 p.m.

Early Onset Dementia Alberta (EODA) in partnership with the Alzheimer Society is hosting the third annual Building Dementia Awareness Conference this month in Red Deer. The event runs Oct. 30th-31st.

Folks are asked to register by Oct. 26th by emailing eodarep@gmail.com. Admission is free.

Highlights of the program include exploring awareness and education for EODA by reviewing home care differences across the province; the lack of services and programming for early onset patients and their caregivers; long-term care for dementia patients who are still physically active; diagnosis and medical supports and awareness and education for dementia.

Discussion will also revolve around how families and caregivers can continue to advocate for their concerns.

Guest speakers on Oct. 30th at Red Deer College’s Margaret Parsons Theatre include Mollie Cole on Appropriate Use of Anti-Psychotics in the Care of Persons with Dementia; Dr. Duncan Robertson – a specialist in internal and geriatric medicine from Victoria; Donna Durand, executive director with the Alberta Council on Aging and Red Deer’s own Larry Quintillio, the local representative with EODA.

In attendance on Oct. 31st at the Sheraton Hotel will be Dr. David Westaway, director of the Alberta Centre for Prions and Prion Folding Disease, and board president of ASANT.

Also speaking on various topics will be Laurie Grande, ASANT’s client services and programs; Brande Terashita (children of EODA), Betty Payne (financial support); Kim White and Maggie (companion dog allowing independence); the Red Deer RCMP PACT division (support for independent living at home) and the Alberta Caregivers Association.

Meanwhile, Quintilio wants to reach out to those who are dealing with an early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

His wife June passed away from the disease in her 60s – considerably younger than the age most people likely believe most folks are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. But June had been struggling with symptoms for many years prior to her death as well.

Larry recalls knowing by 2005 or 2006 that something was wrong.

June was resistant to talking about the possibility, so actually nailing down a diagnosis took time. She passed away after spending three and a half years in the Centennial Centre in Ponoka. Larry’s growing concern over his wife’s symptoms prompted him to move his office to their basement for a year. He later retired so he could care for June full-time.

These days, Larry has helped to spearhead Early Onset Dementia Alberta, a group committed to spreading the word that this disease affects younger people as well – people who are still, in some cases, paying mortgages or even raising families and have all kinds of financial responsibilities.

He said this month’s conference is an excellent opportunity for people to come and hear experts discuss the latest about early onset dementia. He also pointed out that he’s formed many strong friendships with other conference attendees over the past few years, as they have much in common and can share their experiences. “I’ve met a lot of really good people through this.”

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, which causes thinking and memory to become seriously impaired. It is the most common form of dementia. Quintilio also pointed out that 72% of those diagnosed with early onset dementia are women.

In the meantime, Larry says a strong, supportive network of family and friends is crucial to coping. He’s also interested in helping others who are facing similar circumstances.

“I’m the biggest advocate of support groups,” he said, adding that support groups are ideal places to help educate others about ways you have found are helpful to cope. “People that have gone through this disease are coming back and sharing things that they have learned.”

Walking alongside someone with Alzheimer’s means there will be days when it feels like it’s almost too much to bear. And that’s why support groups are essential – you can share your feelings and experiences and know that there’s a built-in empathy already there. For more information call Larry Quintilio at 403- 346-8401.

Visit www.alzheimer.ab.ca.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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