• James Parry

Hudson doctor awarded the Order of Canada for over 30 years of helping Alzheimer patients Serge Gaut


SERGE GAUTHIER

Dr. Serge Gauthier shares his Order of Canada with the Alzheimer research community across Canada and his patients at the Hudson Medi-Center.

The Order of Canada is this country’s highest civilian honour awarded to a very select group of individuals for their outstanding level of talent and service, or for their exceptional contribution to Canada and humanity. A group that as of this month - officially designated Alzheimer’s Month - now includes Hudsonite, Dr. Serge Gauthier, who has devoted the last 30 years helping to improve the quality of life for those suff ering from memory and other cognitive complaints, as well as their families and caregivers.

“While it is obviously a personal award, I accept it on behalf of the Alzheimer research community across the country,” said Gauthier in an exclusive interview with Your Local Journal yesterday, shortly before driving in to Verdun where, as director of the Alzheimer Disease Research Unit, McGill Center for Studies in Aging (MCSA) founded in 1997, he and his team of dedicated health professionals provide consultation services for patients over age 55 with such problems, as well as following volunteers interested in the study of normal brain aging. How did he first learn that he had received the Order of Canada?

“I received a phone call at work in early December from someone at the Governor General’s Office in Ottawa informing me that I had been awarded this high honour. ‘Do you accept?’ she asked. I was absolutely floored.” Added Gauthier, “I was then told not to tell anyone until the list of new recipients was made public on December 27. I received my lapel pin by regular mail on December 22 and I now proudly wear it at work knowing, as I do, some of the great people who have already received this honour including André Chagnon in VaudreuilDorion.”

The mission of the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation is to prevent poverty by contributing to the educational success of young people living in Quebec from conception to age 17 by helping them to develop their full potential. Gauthier also shares the award with his patients at the Hudson Medi-Centre where, for the past 22 years, he has been volunteering his time and professionalism as a neurology consultant for patients from throughout the region every other Saturday from 7.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

Explained Gauthier, “When I first discovered that there was a need for this in Hudson, I was only too pleased to offer my services and now I am starting to see the children of patients I took care of previously. Some of them consulting for prevention of the condition that affected their parent or parents.” In this regard, Gauthier added that a prevention strategy to delay the emergence of symptoms of Alzheimer’s is being tested in many parts of the world, including Montreal.

“It just so happens that Hudson, which my wife, Louise, and I fell in love with after one Sunday afternoon visit 23 years ago, offers so many of the components of a lifestyle that may be preventive, including social networking, intellectual activities such as bridge, physical exercises such as walking, curling, and golfing, as well as gardening.”

As for the statistics, Gauthier says that worldwide the figures are similar: “One out of 20 people over age 65, one out of four over 75, and one out of three over age 85 has Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “Because of aging of populations, the numbers of persons affected will double within the next 20 years, thus the need for prevention strategies applicable to everyone - primarily lifestyle changes- and possibly medications preventing amyloid buildup in one’s brain if one has a high genetic risk.

“Moreover, women are more often affected than men because they live longer, but it is expected that the higher education of younger generations of women will reverse that risk ratio.” Gauthier’s research unit at the MCSA is currently testing these strategies, in partnership with other McGill research units and centers across Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia. January is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

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