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The Aging Brain

Leah Sarich | posted Thursday, Jan 28th, 2016


We’ve all forgotten our keys or an item on the grocery list, but when is this forgetfulness a problem? For Alzheimer Awareness Month, Neurologist Dr. Eric Smith explains, alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for it, but it’s one of the biggest problems facing medicine. Right now 1.5 percent of the population has the disease and in 30 years, Dr. Smith says that number will climb to 2.8 percent and doctors, scientists and patients are still waiting for the big breakthrough.

What doctors do know is the brain ages, it shrinks over time, and it works differently as we get older too and this is normal aging like getting wrinkles or grey hair. Dr. Smith says it’s not unusual to become a bit more forgetful as you get older, but the question is how often does this forgetfulness impact the quality of your life. For example, are you unable to balance a chequebook or forget where you’re going when you’re driving? If these events are occurring frequently, Dr. Smith says it’s time to talk to your doctor.

Dr. Smith says while there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are things doctors can do to help. There are medications that can provide a boost to your memory or in the case of vascular dementia which is caused by strokes, doctors can prescribe medication that can prevent more strokes from happening and preserve memory. Doctors can also set patients up with various supports in the community so you can live the best life possible with the disease.

The good news is The University of Calgary has recognized brain aging as a priority and just last year the Ron and Rene Ward Centre for Healthy Brain Aging Research opened. At this Centre, all under one roof, are neurologists, stroke specialists, brain imaging experts, psychiatrists and more. The goal is to come up with new and exciting research studies that will one day lead to major improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of dementia.

For more information on dementia visit this website. For more information on healthy brain aging go here. For more information on this new Centre at the University of Calgary visit this website. 


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