Victoria families losing precious time by waiting too long to seek dementia diagnosis

An early diagnosis can also avert unnecessary crises for their families, says Alzheimer Society of B.C. for Greater Victoria

  • Mar. 4, 2014 7:00 p.m.

As many as 50 per cent of Canadians with dementia are not diagnosed early enough.

And that means many Victoria residents living with dementia are losing precious time when care and support can make a tremendous difference in their quality of life, says Meriel Randerson, support and education co-ordinator for the Alzheimer Society of B.C. for Greater Victoria.

An early diagnosis can also avert unnecessary crises for their families, she adds.

There’s a growing urgency to the message, as more than 70,000 British Columbians already live with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia — a number that is set to double within the next 25 years as Baby Boomers age. And almost three-quarters of Canadians know someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

“A diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating, but it can also bring relief,” says Randerson. “Early diagnosis keeps your life from unravelling.”

Some people with dementia believe that very little can be done for them. Yet early diagnosis can bring a measure of relief and help them take control of their lives. “Support after diagnosis helps them gain perspective on their circumstances, fears, beliefs and hopes.”

Earlier diagnosis also opens the door to important local information, resources and support through the society, which helps people with dementia focus on their abilities to remain independent in their homes and communities longer.

With early diagnosis, people can access medications that, although not effective for everyone, have the greatest impact when taken early.

“On a practical level, an early diagnosis gives someone the chance to explain the changes happening in their life to family and friends and allows families to plan ahead,” says Randerson.

Seeing a doctor for diagnosis can also rule out other treatable conditions, such as thyroid disease, infections, and side effects of medications, which sometime mimic dementia symptoms or behaviours.

Fear and stigma continue to be huge barriers to seeking help. In a recent Nanos survey, 60 per cent of Canadians polled said it would be harder to disclose if they, or someone close to them, had Alzheimer’s disease compared with other diseases because of the social stigma associated with mental health issues.

The society is working to break down those barriers, through a variety of local programs and services.

A support and information group, for example, serves as a forum for sharing practical tips and strategies for coping with the disease. It helps create support and friendship with others whose lives are affected by dementia.

For more information contact Randerson at 250-382-2052 or mranderson@alzheimerbc.org.

And to learn how to spot the signs of dementia, understand the benefits of a diagnosis and prepare for a doctor’s visit, visit www.earlydiagnosis.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“Isolation is normal for us,” says Saanich dad with cystic fibrosis

Gordon Head man says now’s the time to approve life-saving cystic fibrosis drug

Victoria business still busy as people turn to books while in self-isolation

Russell Books says certain genres have gained popularity during COVID-19

Farmers’ markets still open in Greater Victoria

The Moss Street and Esquimalt Farmers’ markets are scheduled to take place, with slight variations

Victoria police warns of text, vacation rental COVID-19 fraud attempts

Frauds appearing online, in text messages and through vacation rentals

Development and building applications in Victoria can now be submitted online

Victoria mayor moves daily update to 2:30 p.m. every weekday

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach youngster gets car parade for his sixth birthday

Friends get creative after party cancelled due to ongoing pandemic

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

Nanaimo RCMP ask for help locating 17-year-old girl believed to be with 36-year-old man

Mary Cyprich, missing since Thurday, might be in company of Force Forsythe

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

Most Read