Walk for Memories honours caregivers

The Vernon walk occurs at Kal Tire Place Sunday from 9:30 to 11 a.m., with registration at 8:30 a.m.

On Sunday, British Columbians in 23 communities across the province, including Vernon, will participate in the 2014 Investors Group Walk for Memories to support dementia research.

The Vernon walk occurs at Kal Tire Place from 9:30 to  11 a.m., with registration at 8:30 a.m.

More than 70,000 people face dementia in B.C., with 15,000 more people diagnosed with a form of dementia each year. The number of people living with the disease in B.C. is expected to double by 2038.

“Events like the Investors Group Walk for Memories are so important because they help the Alzheimer Society of B.C. continue to raise funds for research, support, education and information for those who face Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” said Maria Howard, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of B.C.

“The walk is also a place to meet people who understand the dementia journey.”

This year’s Investors Group Walk for Memories is dedicated to all caregivers.

“All caregivers are courageous individuals who improve quality of life for a person living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia,” reads the Alzheimer Society of B.C. website.

They may be spouses, children, family members, friends or paid professionals.

Many caregivers provide ongoing and around-the-clock care to aging family members on top of holding a job and raising children, sometimes to the detriment of their own health and well-being.

Each person who cares for someone with dementia will experience the challenges associated with the disease in their own unique way. It is important to recognize that there are many different approaches to supporting someone with dementia and caregivers often need to explore a variety of techniques and strategies to determine what works best for them.

Caregiving can become a 24-hour-a-day job.

Among the honorees being celebrated by the 2014 Investors Group Walk for Memories are doctors Lynn Beattie and Mirza Faisal Beg, who are engaged in research that will improve the lives of British Columbians who face Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

Beattie, this year’s Vancouver walk honoree, has been involved in several research initiatives, including clinical drug trials in Alzheimer’s disease.

The drug trials have focused on the psychological resilience and well-being of spousal caregivers, the genetic epidemiological study of Alzheimer’s disease, brain power, resistance training and cognitive function in older women and much more.

“Fundraising events like the Investors Group Walk for Memories are key to improving the lives of those facing dementia. The ultimate goal of research is to find a cure and, in the meantime, to find paths to mitigate dilemmas for persons with dementia and their family members,” said Beattie.

Beg, this year’s Tri-Cities Walk honoree, is a biomedical engineer who has worked to integrate engineering with an understanding of brain structure to create more accurate computational tools for making better measurements within the brain, research that contributes to improved early diagnosis.

The reason accurate early diagnosis is so important is that it opens the door to care and treatment that helps people with dementia remain active and independent longer, she said.

Dementia is a term that describes a general group of brain disorders.

Symptoms include the loss of memory, impaired judgment, and changes in behaviour and personality.

Dementia is progressive, degenerative and eventually terminal. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia accounting for almost two-thirds of dementias in Canada today.

For more information on the Investors Group Walk for Memories, visit www.walkformemories.com or call the Kelowna branch of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. toll free at 1-800-634-3399.