Janine Willemsen will be at an upcoming Alzheimer Society of B.C. open house in Maple Ridge in honour of World Alzheimer Month of September. (Contributed)

Alzheimer’s disease more than just memory loss

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. will be holding an open house in Maple Ridge

Anybody can misplace the keys to their car or their cell phone from time to time.

But when memory loss becomes significant enough to cause difficulty in a person’s day-to-day functioning, they may have Alzheimer’s disease.

Janine Willemsen, a support and education coordinator with the First Link Program of the Alzheimer Society, will be at an upcoming open house in Maple Ridge in honour of World Alzheimer Month of September to share with the public information on programs and services the Alzheimer Society has to offer and to talk to people about the warning signs, what the disease is, how is it different from dementia and the importance of getting an early diagnosis.

Dementia, said Willemsen, is the term used to describe a group of symptoms.

It is a general decline in mental abilities overall in a person and can be caused by a number of conditions or diseases, Alzheimer’s disease being one.

“It is the most common of the neurological diseases that cause the dementia,” said Willemsen.

Willemsen says that Alzheimer’s disease causes much more than just memory loss.

The biggest indicator of Alzheimer’s is memory loss that affects day-to-day abilities. One big warning sign is difficulty performing familiar tasks.

RELATED: Coping with Alzheimer’s through poetry

“So if somebody knew how to do something their whole life or a majority of their life, and all of a sudden, they are struggling with that,” Willemsen said.

Issues with language is another sign. That could be forgetting a word, said Willemsen, or substituting a word that doesn’t fit the context of the sentence of what people are talking about.

“That is not the same as what we term tip-of-the-tongue moment. We all have those,” she said.

Another thing that often happens and people with dementia will tell you, said Willemsen, is they get disorientated in time and space.

”If they’ve travelled or walked from home to the corner store for the last 20 years and all of a sudden they get half way there and they are totally lost,” she explained, adding that it may take them one minute to get back their bearings or sometimes longer.

Depending on the disease causing the dementia, some people can have impaired judgment, which could mean that they don’t recognize their own medical issues or wear inappropriate clothing, like too little on a cold day or the opposite, too much clothing on a hot day.

RELATED: Alzheimer’s campaign tackles stigma of dementia

Some people might have issues with abstract thinking and executive functioning, said Willemsen. That would be having problems with numbers like making change or balancing a cheque book, something that person was quite capable of before.

A person might also start misplacing things in unusual places, for example, putting their watch in a sugar bowl.

There could be changes in personality and sudden mood swings.

“You can have where all of a sudden a person who was really easy going, it becomes quick tempered,” said Willemsen, adding that people also tend to become paranoid and feel threatened like always feeling somebody is out to get them.

One final symptom is a loss of initiative where the person loses interest in maybe meeting with friends or family or doing certain activities.

“It’s actually the damage that is happening in the brain and nobody realizes, it because it starts so slowly,” said Willemsen.

The Alzheimer Society will be at the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society Seniors Activity Centre every second Monday from now on for the public to drop in or make appointments for one-to-one and family meetings.

The open house takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 30 at the Seniors Activity Centre at 12150-224th St. in Maple Ridge.

For more information call 604-467-4993.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

BEING YOUNG: Holiday jobs key for many youth

Young people have much to offer employers, even on a part-time basis

VIDEO: Townhouse fourth Maple Ridge blaze in less than a day

UPDATE: Fire victims have much to be thankful for, despite loss of pets on Thanksgiving Day

ON COOKING: Embrace the experience, from beginning to end

A passion for cooking can easily be rekindled according to this chef and culinary instructor

Nostalgic trip down TV theme song lane at ACT in Maple Ridge

Juno nominee jazz artist John Stetch will share his love for television themes

VIDEO: Trudeau plays defence in Maritimes today while Scheer fights for seats in Quebec

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party has been on the rise in recent polls, is campaigning in Toronto

‘Rather mild’ winter expected in B.C. this year

Northwestern B.C. will be the worst hit

Court action in Trail acid spills may take years

B.C. court case involves a number of defendants and a number of plaintiffs

RCMP shoot dog in Surrey after it charges officer

Member of the public not seriously injured after dog bite

In the news: Sprinting to the election finish line and anger amid Manitoba storms

First Nations residents forced to evacuate their Manitoba homes after a recent snowstorm

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Most Read