Tele-workshop eases concerns

Researchers are giving new hope to Nanaimo families coping with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Already, one in 11 Canadians over 65 lives with the diseases. And since age is the highest risk factor, that number is expected to soar as the population continues to get older.

Advances in research offer new reasons for optimism though, including new tools that allows doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease earlier and with more certainty.

Nanaimo families can get the latest information without even leaving their home, thanks to an Update on Dementia Research tele-workshop offered Oct. 25 by the Alzheimer Society of B.C.

Vancouver geriatrician Dr. Philip Lee will explain how research advancements might translate into clinical care for local residents.

“We are beginning, more and more, to understand how the disease doesn’t just present itself at times of first symptom onset. There’s a whole process that’s occurring in the background,” he said. “We may be able to make the diagnosis earlier and earlier, and potentially in individuals before they have symptoms.

“To intervene at that point would be desirable so that hopefully we can even prevent – in the future – the condition from actually worsening.”

Researchers are exploring new interventions for people diagnosed with dementia, and non-pharmacological interventions such as exercise and diet that may also reduce the risk of the disease.

Lee contributes to research but also works with patients at UBC’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Clinic as well as St. Paul’s Hospital Department of Geriatric Medicine.

“The largest proportion of what I do is see patients,” he said. “That is part of what drives my passion for the research, because ultimately, I can also see the impact that it has on treating the patients and the family members we have the privilege of interacting with.”

The Update on Dementia Research tele-workshop runs from 7-8 p.m. Nanaimo residents can access it via telephone, with optional online slides.

A few minutes before the session, participants dial toll-free 1-866-994-7745, then enter the pass code of 1122333.

To use the website, go to and enter as a guest.

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