Canadian Researchers Take Aim at Dementia

aaic-2016-logo-16-512X288The 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® (AAIC) concluded last week in Toronto with a number of studies released to coincide with this important event. Canadian media coverage of issues relating to Alzheimer’s and dementia also responded with some timely stories.

Global News featured a story on a University of Saskatchewan researcher Debra Morgan who is studying how to improve dementia care in rural communities. Morgan, who is professor and chair of rural health care delivery at the Canadian Centre of Health and Safety in Agriculture, points out that rural regions have fewer resources. They also have proportionally more older people – and age is the main risk factor for dementia.

Dementia infographic, credit: Global News
Dementia infographic, credit: Global News

“Rural healthcare providers face a lot of challenges in diagnosing dementia,” Debra Morgan said. “We’re trying to find out how to provide them with education and decision support tools they need to increase their capacity to diagnose and manage dementia, and find ways to provide remote support from specialists at a distance.”

The funding will be used to develop a Rural Dementia Action Research (RaDAR) toolkit to give healthcare providers practices which can be tailored to different rural settings.

Read more on the Global report here:


A second Global News report cites the work of University of Calgary scientists, who introduced a new syndrome at AAIC called “mild behavioural impairment” or MBI – they say it may be the precursor to Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

“Dementia is a brain illness caused by a loss of structure in the brain – it shrinks, you lose neurons, and they don’t connect as well. While it’s clear that when you lose brain structure and function, you won’t think as clearly, it’s not that much of a stretch to think that other brain functions like the way you interact with the world, your confidence, motivation, sensitivity and empathy would also be affected by a degenerating brain,” says Dr. Zahinoor Ismail, the study’s lead researcher.

At the conference Zahinoor’s research team presented a 38-question checklist that could help to identify those who are most at risk.

About 747,000 Canadians are living with some form of dementia and the society says this number is slated to double to 1.4 million in less than 20 years.

For more information, and a list of some of the 38 questions on the researchers’ checklist, see the report here:

dementia-screen2A synopsis of the AAIC 2016 reports released, visit their website here.

To watch a documentary by Global TV’s 16×9 program featuring our last BCCPA conference keynote presenter Dawna Friesen, “The Unspooling Mind”, visit this page.

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