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Alzheimer club offers support and opportunities

Dementia is overlooked. Well, the whole field of geriatrics for that matter is overlooked. Newfoundland has only one geriatric doctor, Dr. Anne Slater, who practices in St. John's. We are not getting any younger and when we become seniors, we'll wonder why there's not much support for our problems. Well, it's because we didn't do anything about it!

One of the most debilitating and serious diseases that ruins the lives of seniors (and sometimes younger people) and their loved ones is Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that silently robs the life of the victim. There is no cure and it still frequently goes unnoticed by family physicians until the disease is at an advanced stage. Most of us know that memory loss is a symptom. However, most of us are unaware of nine other symptoms: difficulty performing familiar tasks; language problems; disorientation of time and place; poor or decreased judgment; problems with abstract thinking; misplacing things; changes in mood and behaviour; changes in personality; and loss of initiative.

It is important to speak with a doctor when you notice a family member experiencing any of these symptoms.

There are at least 7,681 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians living with the disease. Alzheimer's was the fifth leading cause of death in this province among women between the years 2000-2005. In addition, it has been ranked in seventh to ninth place as a leading cause of death among men between the years 2000-2005.

Six years have passed since those statistics were reported. The first baby boomers turn 65 this year, meaning that that there will be a higher prevalence of the disease.

The goal at the Alzheimer Awareness Club at Memorial is not just to raise awareness and host charity events. We also hope to provide support to as many students as we can who have family members suffering from this disease.

So far, our team has been doing great! We have helped each other tackle the challenges as we hurdle towards our goal of helping others. However, it is a tough battle. We are heavily outnumbered against this fight. As the prevalence of the disease increases, the need for people to help either directly or indirectly also increases. We have a variety of volunteering opportunities on and off campus at flexible times.

Whether you are looking for a different way to help the society, or if you just want an excuse to work with some awesome people, fire an e-mail to Navin Kaushal (nk8417@mun.ca), or Liz Wallack (alzheimer_eventsplanner@nf.aibn.com) at the Alzheimer Society!

Navin Kaushal
President and Founder of the Alzheimer Awareness Club

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