• Carmen Marie Fabio

Hope for Dementia hosts charity gala dinner in Hudson


PHOTO COURTESY HOPE FOR DEMENTIA

Following the success of the inaugural Hope for Dementia fundraising gala held January, 2019 in Ville Saint-Laurent, the organization is hosting a second gala in Hudson on Friday, September 27 and will welcome representatives from government, community, and industry leaders with the collective goal to raise awareness and funds for early detection and treatment.

The numbers are sobering – over half a million Canadians are currently living with some form of dementia and 25,000 new cases are diagnosed annually. It’s forecasted that by the year 2030, seniors will make up 23 per cent of Canadians. With the increase in life expectancy comes an increase in age-related disorders and associated healthcare costs, most of which are incurred after the age of 65.

Hope for Dementia, a non-profit organization working to support the cause of safeguarding healthy brains in our aging population, will be hosting a fundraising gala at Hudson’s Whitlock Golf and Country Club Friday, September 27 and the evening’s guest list includes an extensive roster of those invested in political, medical, and social realms of our greying population.

“Our mandate is to raise awareness for early diagnosis and early treatment,” said Hope for Dementia President Parsa Famili. “We’re also aiming to raise awareness on dementia related illnesses and to establish research chairs in North America ensuring work is done to find a cure. If we don’t do something about it, we will soon have a huge problem in our health infrastructure.”

Background

Founded in 2016, Hope for Dementia is a charitable organization comprised of a team dedicated to supporting the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dementia and other cognitive disorders.

Famili’s legacy work with Novatek International involved trying to find rapid assessments in cognitive impairment and clinical trials. Based in Ville Saint-Laurent, Hope for Demential was awarded ‘Social Organization of the Year’ by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Saint-Laurent – Mount Royal earlier this year in recognizing the team’s success and perseverance.

Fighting stigma

Famili acknowledges there still exists a stigma related to cognitive impairment and by the time people seek help, it’s often too late.

“Another one of our mandates is to tell people whether they seek help for a mental disorder or a cancer diagnosis – it’s all the same. It’s a health issue that must be addressed.” Because of the current aging rate of the population, it’s imperative to address the issue immediately.

Removing isolation

Famili advocates programs involving socializing and talking as interactions and language are a good way to access both long and short-term memories.

Another initiative that shows promise is ‘Intergenerational Learning’ where seniors and young people are encouraged to interact with the goal of both learning one thing and teaching one thing.

“Isolation is one of the biggest problems with the elderly,” Famili said, adding that isolation is growing in direct relation to our dependence on technology leading to a lack of face to face interaction.

With Intergenerational Learning youth are encouraged to help a senior set up a Facebook page or navigate some aspect of social media. The seniors, in turn, are asked to share some of their life experience whether it’s a culinary skill or advice from their former professional lives. “The interactions allow both to benefit. And the more the elderly avoid isolation, the more they have to look forward to and to raise hope.”

Hope for Dementia is hoping this model will go viral with the shared interactions being uploaded to YouTube.

Early detection needed

Famili said there is currently no psychological process being evaluated as a routine brain fitness test to determine who is inclined for early dementia. If an early detection process can be established and implemented, the cost of care will decrease and patients can enjoy a better quality of life.

While drug treatments exist for some of the symptoms, there is no pharmaceutical cure for dementia.

“One of the reasons is the brain doesn’t function the same in different individuals,” said Famili. “Education, environment, language skills… there are many factors in how the brain works.”

Whitlock Gala

The upcoming gala seeks to spread the word and is one of many events planned for the future. “The galas raise awareness that there’s still a lot that can be done,” said Famili. “The brain retains some elasticity and it can learn, even in the later years in life. Just as one does exercise, it’s also important to do brain fitness.”

Though a breakthrough cure isn’t on the immediate horizon, the research and advocacy offers dementia patients and their families one of the most important lifelines – hope.

The September 27 gala begins at 6:30 p.m. and will welcome Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services Dr. Lionel Carmant, Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke along with many specialists in related fields. The evening will feature live music and a four-course dinner with wine.

Tickets for the gala are $195 with a tax receipt. They are available by calling (514) 464-0202 or at hopefordementia.org.

Whitlock is located at 128 Côte Saint-Charles in Hudson.

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