AGM Held 19 May 2014 at the Day Centre

There follows a report on the talk given by Professor Lawrence Whalley, Institute of Applied Health Services, University of Aberdeen on the subject Dementia Causes & Courses.

Following the report, there are pictures of the AGM.

Volunteers, Members, staff and friends of the North Berwick Day Centre gathered last Monday night for the Centre's AGM and Annual Lecture. This year's guest speaker was Professor Laurence Whalley, from the Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, a leading expert on Alzheimer's.

A third of people over 80 years old have dementia and the total number of people with dementia is increasing as many of us live longer. However over the last 40 years, the number of new cases of Alzheimer's per head population has fallen by 20%, possibly linked to improved health of older people. Alzheimers affects the cells that work hardest, the cells in the most highly evolved parts of our brain, the parts that make us human. That helps to explain why so often Alzheimer's affects the personality, 'the thief in the night' that takes away the person we knew.

Although we now know more about the biology of Alzheimers than any other medical condition, its hard to diagnose and distinguish from the symptoms from everyday forgetfulness. Professor Whalleys research in Aberdeen showed Alzheimer's symptoms could emerge 10-15 years before a diagnosis. Technology allowing us to look inside the living brain shows changes can occur in brain cells 30 years before symptoms appear. By the time of diagnoses, the condition might have been present for decades.

If Alzheimer's starts so much earlier than the symptoms, does that mean we can prevent it or reduce its impact on our lives? Professor Whalley explained we can prevent or reduce the risk of Alzheimers by:

  • Providing better support after a stroke. 10 per cent of people get Alzheimer's after a first stroke, rising to 33% after a second stroke. Effective post-stroke support reduces the risk of Alzheimer's.
  • Diagnosing and treating Delirium more effectively. Delerium is more common in children and people over 75 and half of older people with delirium get dementia. Better treatment and improved nursing care reduce the risks of delirium and so prevent Alzheimer's.
  • Treating depression. Severe recurrent depression is linked to dementia so treating depression helps reduce the risk of dementia.
  • Taking action to reduce head injuries as head injuries are also linked to getting Alzheimers later in life.  
  • Eating a healthy diet, more foods rich in folates and fish oil especially later in life. The evidence suggests it is better to eat healthily rather than use supplements.

Professor Whalley explained that the roots of Alzheimers lie in our childhood. Poor nutrition in the early years leads to adult vascular problems which in turn lead to Alzheimers. A poor start in life from pregnancy - can also lead to Alzheimers later on. Good food for the body and stimulation for the brain throughout life are the best ways to help mitigate the impact of Alzheimers. Supporting people with dementia to stay active and connected to friends and communities is an important way on helping people with dementia live a happy and healthy life, even with a diagnosis of dementia.

Report written by Sue Northrop, of the North Berwick Volunteer Management Committee

(left to right) Dorothy Danks (Treasurer), Elma Danks (Chair), Pat Brown (Secretary), Ian Donald (Director):- 

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The Report from Margaret Wilson, Volunteers Co-Ordinator:-

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The Report from Carol Wicker, Day Centre Co-Ordinator:-

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The Report from Janet Raeburn about the cushion group:-

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Elma Danks, Chair:-

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The Word Quiz Prize Winner was drawn (answers below):-

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Our Chair, Elma Danks, introduced our speaker, Professor Lawrence Whalley, Institute of Applied Health Services, University of Aberdeen:-

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Vote of Thanks from Ian Donald:-

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