Richmond Gurdwara Hosts Seminar On Dementia And Alzheimer Disease


By Balwant Sanghera

India Cultural Centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas in Richmond often holds seminars on health related issues. On July 8, in co-operation with Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society (RMCS), the Gurdwara hosted a seminar on Dementia/ Alzheimer. The3 seminar was offered by Tricia Ackerman. . She is the Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator for HomeInstead Senior Care and Winjack Senior Services Inc., Richmond. Twenty five keen seniors-both male and female- participated in the seminar. They are part of the Chai Chaupal Program sponsored by RMCS and hosted by the Gurdwara for the past several years.

Ackerman based her presentation on the research conducted by Dr. Jane F. Potter, chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre. According to Dr. Potter, it is safe to say that Alzheimer and other dementias have a risk of personality changes, people behaving in ways counter to their prior personality. According to the Alzheimer Association, there are ten warning signs of Alzheimer‘s compared with what are typical age related changes. Tricia Ackerman dealt with each of these signs in detail as contained in a handout provided to the participants:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life: One of the most common signs is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information.

  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems: Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.

  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure: People sometimes may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favourite game.

  4. Confusion with time or place: Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time.

  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships: For some people, having vision problems is a sign. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror, for instance.

  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing: There is trouble following or joining a conversation.

  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps: Placing things in unusual places. Sometimes they may accuse others of stealing.

  8. Decreased or poor judgment: Experiencing changes in judgment or decision –making.

  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities: Some may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports.

  10. Changes in mood and personality: Some can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work or with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

These are some of the broad indicators of Alzheimer’s disease as outlined by Dr. Potter and clarified by Tricia Ackerman at the seminar. The best way to prevent or cope with any issues relating to one’s health is to be proactive. That means to be active physically, mentally and socially. It is always advisable to seek professional help when facing any health related issues including Alzheimer’s.

Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.