About eight per cent of Canadians aged 65 and up are living with some form of dementia. Fortunately, it's not as many as those who are dealing with arthritis, heart problems or some other age-related ills.
But in southern Alberta, points out an Alberta Health Services official, there are 42,000 men and women in that age group.
"It's the highest proportion in the province," says Colin Zieber.
And it means thousands of local families include someone - often Mom or Dad - who's been diagnosed with dementia. That's why AHS has teamed up with the Alzheimer Society to present a series of public information sessions on the condition and the services available here.
Zieber, executive director for seniors' health in southern Alberta, kicked off the series Tuesday. But a second presentation will be made this morning, and a third one is planned for Jan. 30.
Dr. Roland Ikuta, senior medical director for seniors' health in the south zone, will be today's speaker. He's expected to outline the latest approaches to diagnosing and treating dementia. The session is set for 10:30 a.m. in Lethbridge Senior Citizens' Organization facilities.
Next week, a local woman who's helping her mother face the illness will speak at then LSCO. Her Wednesday presentation is also set for 10:30 a.m.
For Zieber, who spoke at the Nord-Bridge Seniors' Centre, the series is also a way to draw attention to the roles played by the Alzheimer Society locally.
"They provide such great service to families in our zone."
During his presentation, Zieber described the range of responses Alberta's health system offers for individuals and families facing the condition.
"You need to know the specific needs of the person," he says. "For dementia care, it's not a cookie-cutter approach."
Families can offer much of that care, he added. Because respite care is available, they're able to take breaks when they need to. Many assisted living facilities also serve residents with dementia.
The local series, he pointed out, is part of Alzheimer Awareness Month. Further information can also be found in an AHS health and wellness magazine, "Apple," available across the province.