There’s never been a more important moment for Alzheimer’s research!
Weddings. Births. Graduations. Holidays.
A simple Saturday afternoon picnic with family.
Our memories are precious to us – the moments that fill both our hearts and our minds. The milestones that have brought us to where we are, and the everyday happenings that build our bonds with the people we love.
It’s terrifying to imagine that one day those memories could simply… Disappear.
But that’s the reality for more than half a million Canadians who live with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. By 2020, brain disease will overtake heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death and disability in Canada.
There’s never been a more critical time for dementia and Alzheimer’s research. That’s why we are dedicating ourselves, in partnership with the University of Ottawa’s Brain and Mind Research Institute, to building a world-class memory program here at Bruyère Continuing Care.
We receive over 1,000 referrals each year and see more than 300 patients each month. Those are huge numbers, and population demographics show us they’ll only continue to grow in the next few decades.
Patients like Katherine Suter, a former social worker in the health care system. Katherine began to notice small changes in her memory more than a decade ago. At first, they were undetectable to anyone other than herself. She felt almost silly mentioning it.
But Katherine trusted her instincts, which led her right here to the team of experts at Bruyère. Though the memory loss she was experiencing was very minor at that point, she was right: Katherine was living in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Early intervention is vital to treating Alzheimer’s.
Caused by a toxic buildup of brain protein, Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. People living with dementia experience deterioration in their memory, thinking, behaviour, and ability to perform everyday activities.
But, when we catch signs of these diseases early enough, we can slow the cognitive decline. Not forever…at least not yet, but for long enough to significantly enhance quality of life for patients in our Memory Program.
Katherine is the perfect example of someone who has benefited from the Bruyère Memory Program’s care. More than ten years after first visiting Bruyère, she continues to live a full family-centered life thanks to new advances in medication.
Katherine is a patient in one of our clinical trials, testing monthly infusions of anti-amyloid antibodies that have demonstrated potential to slow the protein buildup that causes Alzheimer’s. Her memory has remained relatively stable in recent years – something for which her husband and children are truly grateful.
When I asked Katherine and her husband Ron about their experience at Bruyère, they had the following to say:
“It has been an incredible process for us, because we felt supported and cared for all along the way. We believe in the importance of investing in healthcare for our community, and we’re living examples of the benefit of making that investment.
We became monthly donors to Bruyère because we know memory care is the next great priority when it comes to our aging society. We could be working up to the next big breakthrough in this research – and now we’ll know we’ve contributed.”
As a doctor, it’s inspiring to hear such conviction coming from my patients. It tells me we are truly on the right track when it comes to providing world-class memory care right here at Bruyère.
Many Ontarians think all services they receive in hospitals are fully funded by the province, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bruyère relies on generous individuals to help us build beyond the bare essentials.
It’s an important moment in dementia and Alzheimer’s research: we know we are racing the clock in many ways. Not just the clock of our individual patients’ cognitive declines, but the clock of a society with an increasing number of senior citizens. At this point, a sharp increase in dementia patients is inevitable.
But that just motivates us to do better each and every day at Bruyère.
Our Memory Program is the only dedicated memory clinic in the Ottawa region. We feel the responsibility of pioneering new research and trying the newest advances in medical treatment. And we can’t do it without your support.
When I dream about the future, I dream about a world where we can stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks. We will screen for and detect the disease in its earliest stages, then treat it before it can get any worse.
I dream about people never having to experience the very worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s: the loss of language, the disorientation, the loss of oneself. It’s heartbreaking to watch the ones we love succumb to this disease, becoming completely dependent on long-term care.
Early detection, early treatment, and technological advances all have important roles to play in bettering the future of Alzheimer’s patients. These are the key tools we’re working on at Bruyère.
I feel confident we will make amazing breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s care in the near future. And I feel confident that our community will help us make that reality possible.
An investment in memory care is an investment in a more productive, engaged, and fulfilling future for people in our community.
Dr. Andrew Frank M.D. B.Sc.H. F.R.C.P.(C)
Cognitive Neurologist, and Medical Director
Bruyère Memory Program