Meg Pfeifer-Brandt, the South Eastman regional coordinator at Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba believes in the importance of spreading awareness about dementia and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Pfeifer-Brandt notes that dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two.
“Dementia would be an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that people can have. Forgetfulness, executive function difficulty or even not understanding abstract thinking or numbers. Those are symptoms of dementia. Alzheimer's is a disease, so Alzheimer's would be the type of dementia that a person would have,”
She explains the signs that can identify the difference between forgetfulness and dementia.
“The biggest thing is you know how sometimes we forget little details of a conversation, or we forget things that might take place a year ago, and that's normal aging. Dementia would be if we're not able to recall details of a recent conversation or a recent event. Could be that we don't recognize or don't remember the names of family members, whereas normal aging is, you know, sometimes we have difficulty remembering the name of an acquaintance,” Pfeifer-Brandt says. “Another big sign is when your other family members or other relatives are worried about your memory issues. When your family members become a little bit more concerned and you are not aware of those problems, we can start to look into it and might think that it might be dementia,”
Pfeifer-Brandt says that she saw an increase in referrals following the pandemic and experienced the impact.
“We can see the changes that people have to their memory now. We have a lot more people sending referrals, especially medical professionals, through our first link program,” Pfeifer-Brandt says. “Sometimes it might be a 15-minute conversation before where now, it's more like a 30-minute conversation, just because you feel a little isolated from others. The Alzheimer's Society is here to give support and hope,”
For more information on the support available, visit alzheimer.mb.ca. Pfeifer-Brandt also encourages those interested in learning more to contact her at (204) 326-5771.
"I would love to talk. If you even just have questions or are wondering anything like that, I am here to help. I love talking about dementia and I love supporting folks in our community this way,”
She adds that even if you don’t reside in Steinbach, she would still be happy to have a conversation.
“I take care of a lot of southeast and I have a wide variety of people that I talk to from Ste. Anne to Vassar to Vita to La Broquerie,” Pfeifer-Brandt says. “Just know that if you don't live in Steinbach, you can still give me a call and I will be happy to talk to you, hear your story and offer you all the resources and support that I have.”
With files from Judy Peters.