Aging/Gerontology, News

New Dementia Study at McGill University-Montreal, Canada

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

The benefit to living in a city that has good universities is the research they conduct. Here in Montreal we have McGill, Concordia, University de Montreal and a few others, but McGill is the one that many know.

A university researcher, Jens Pruessner is focusing on Dementia. He believes Dementia is not a given and has come up with an interesting way to prove it.  He launched the Prevention of Neurological Diseases in Everyone at Risk (PONDER) project. This project offers free cognitive training to the general public at the same time creating an extensive database of longitudinal cognitive assessments.

It is not about boosting your brain power and the online training is fun games and puzzles. He hopes the public will return to the website regularly.

The newest research is stating that Dementia appears long before symptoms appear and are recognizable. Pruessner is hoping to have participants participate in a study over time and see if cognitive reserves can be built up. There are approximately 500 participants now and 1000 are wanted. The age range is 40 plus!

Pruessner understands the importance of exercise in preventing Dementia, but believes there could be an importance in building up a cognitive reserve in relation to cognitive capacity. The currents stats show that 1 in 13 Canadians will be affected by Dementia between the ages of 65-74. The numbers go higher as one is 85 plus. Remember, Dementia is an umbrella term and there are many different types one could develop with Alzheimer’s being the one most known and feared. Vascular, Lewy Body, Mixed, Parkinson’s, Frontotemporal and Creutzfeldt-Jakob are examples of others. Dementia is highly feared by many seniors/older adults with Alzheimer’s being the most feared.

More can be seen here:


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End-of-Life, Grief/Grieving/Bereavement

Professional vs. Employer Values on Death/Dying and Grief/Grieving

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

I am currently reading a book titled, Comfort by Ann Hood. Yes, I read a lot and as this is an area of interest for me….. this book is about a mother who loses her daughter to a virulent version of strep at age 5. The little girl goes into the hospital due to a high fever and dies 2 days later….I cannot even begin to imagine what this mother feels and is going through, but I can guess the depths of her grief as I am a mother myself.

I have older adult/senior clients who have lost adult children to various illness/diseases like cancer. No parent expects to outlive their children. The expectation is the parent goes first and then the child. It is still a book worth reading as it shows how different individuals grieve and no two people will grieve the same or for the same length of time.

Grief and Grieving along with Death and Dying should be core courses in any helping professional program whether certificate, degree or basic course work. Perhaps it is the time of year as I have had in the past 2 weeks, 2 clients die and 2 have been diagnosed with cancer.

No matter how a professional prepares themself, especially if one chooses to work with older adults, in palliative, hospice or in a hospital/clinic setting, you are not fully prepared. The professional needs to offer a listening ear, empathy and compassion with a client that is ill and the same for the family of a client who has died while keeping their own feelings in check.

Do you attend the funeral, call or send a condolence/sympathy card? What is the policy at your place of employment? What are your wishes as the professional and do they sometimes clash with your employer?

I am curious as to how other professionals who work with a population who is at risk, ill, with chronic health conditions, in palliative or hospice-how do you prepare yourself? What words of empathy, wisdom and knowledge do you offer to the family left behind?

Please feel free to send me an email with your thoughts or let’s get a discussion going on this topic!

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