Fighting for a cause

There are many causes worth fighting for. We often find ourselves getting behind the ones that we’ve had a history with or ones that have affected a loved one.

That’s exactly what two local women are doing and it should inspire us all to do the same.

Diane and Gwen Ganske know well what the toll of Alzheimer’s can do. They have had four members of their family diagnosed with the disease.

Instead of standing by, they are taking action and have joined the board of the Alzheimer’s Society in Red Deer.

They are determined to make a difference.

Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior. People are more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease if they are older. However, developing Alzheimer’s is not a part of normal aging. People are more likely to be diagnosed if they have a close blood relative, such as a brother, sister, or parent with the disease.

There are also two types of Alzheimer’s disease. There is early onset AD where the symptoms appear before age 60. This type is much less common than late onset. However, it tends to get worse quickly. Early onset disease can run in families. Several genes have been identified.

There is also late onset AD, which is the most common. It occurs in people age 60 and older. It may run in some families, but the role of genes is less clear.

Early symptoms of AD can include difficulty performing tasks that take some thought, but used to come easily, such as balancing a checkbook, playing complex games and learning new information or routines. Other symptoms include getting lost on familiar routes, language problems, such as trouble finding the name of familiar objects, losing interest in things previously enjoyed, flat mood, misplacing items and personality changes and loss of social skills.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease however treatment is available. The goals of treatment are to slow the progression of the disease, manage symptoms, such as behavior problems, confusion, and sleep problems, change the person’s home environment so they can better perform daily activities and support family members and other caregivers.

It’s people like Diane and Gwen who continue to spread the message of hope. Although there is no cure, there is still hope that we can fight this disease somehow or in the very least continue to learn more about it so that those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s live their lives to the fullest even after their diagnosis.

It’s encouraging to see young women like this want to get involved and make a difference.

It’s women like this that make up the community we call Red Deer.

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