NEW SPACE- Donna Durand

Alzheimer Society has new location in Red Deer

The Alzheimer Society has moved to a new location in Red Deer just in time for the launch of a national awareness campaign.

The new campaign is ‘Alzheimer’s Disease: It’s More Than You Think,’ reveals Donna Durand, executive director. It will be used nationwide starting in January, which is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

As Durand gears up for the campaign, she’s also working hard to get the word out that they’ve moved offices. The new location is at 4728 Ross St. in the CiRS Community Village.

It’s a bright and welcoming space with more offices and meeting rooms that enable the staff to conduct community workshops and support groups.

Durand says the new location is more suitable for the scope of the society’s mission, which is very people-focused.

Physiotherapists, family members, adult children, seniors, and senior care providers can now gather at the office downtown for various workshops to learn about the disease and share their personal experiences.

Lianne Hazell, who joined the Alzheimer Society last month as the Fund Development Coordinator appreciates the personal approach of the society.

“It’s about people, not statistics,” she says.

The society operates entirely on private donations, much of the funding coming from family members who have been touched by the work the society or who give in memory of a loved one who suffered from the disease.

One thing that won’t change with the new office space is the society’s mandate. One of the Alzheimer Society’s main purposes is to dispel myths about the disease.

“A common myth is that people with Alzheimer’s disease are aggressive or violent,” says Durand. “Many people think it is a mental illness,” she says, and don’t know Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain.

One in three people over the age of 85 will develop dementia.

Experts project that one million Canadians will have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia in 25 years if people don’t get more proactive about the disease.

Beyond educating people about what the disease is, Durand is emphatic about getting the message of prevention to young people so they can be proactive with their health.

She lists preventative measures like a healthy diet, regular exercise, wearing helmets for sports where head injuries are likely and staying connected to people. People who are active socially and physically have better brain health.

“We’re not here to say this, this, and this is going to work for you – people need to be responsible for their own well being.”

Durand is adamant, however, about one mode of prevention: alcohol abuse.

“There is a 100 per cent preventable form of dementia and that is Korsakoff’s syndrome,” she says. The unique form of dementia is caused because of Vitamin B deficiencies due to alcoholism.

Durand has organized a new series of learning for people to gain an emphatic understanding of the experience of people with dementia. The Family Learning Series will start Feb. 1 and run every Tuesday until March 8 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the new office.

For more information about the learning series or the disease call the Alzheimer Society at 403-346-4636.

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