Pictured: members of the UBC Hospital Clinic for Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders clinic and research teams.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer disease is about more than the individual; Alzheimer disease and other dementias affect families and communities as well, and for anyone affected by Alzheimer disease and related disorders, the annual Alzheimer Update has been a place to learn about the latest discoveries and find hope in the future of research.

Since 2006 the UBC Hospital Clinic for Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders (UBCH CARD) has hosted Alzheimer Updates, an annual forum for patients and families living with with dementia to hear about the new research and clinical care standards, and to engage with the researchers, healthcare professionals, and students in an informal setting.

“Every year, we get a little closer to understanding which interventions might be able to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer disease,” says Dr. Haakon Nygaard, Charles E. Fipke Professor in Alzheimer Research and Director of UBCH CARD. “These forums offer the ability to connect with leaders in research and care, and to learn about the clinical trials, study opportunities, and new information available to Alzheimer communities.”

Attendees can look forward to talks from researchers, neurologists, and community partners on current research, new therapies, and clinic updates. For many, a highlight of last year’s event was Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose’s talk on the role of exercise in reducing the progression of mild cognitive impairment in older adults (embedded below). Dr. Liu-Ambrose’s 2016 talk, Exercise and the Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer Disease, remains one of the most watched videos from these forums with more than 2,000 views.

“For many in attendance, the presenters will be recognizable from the clinic in the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health (DMCBH) or at the local hospitals,” says Dr. Nygaard. “Some of the therapeutic interventions attendees will learn about have been developed by scientists within our own group, including exercise and novel ways to target the key pathologic proteins in Alzheimer disease.”

“There are some definite myths about Alzheimer disease, and so we have to continue to talk about the disease in relation to research, but also in relation to the community,” says Maria Howard, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of BC. “We are all impacted by the disease; whether directly because we have the disease, or because it’s in our families or in our community. We all need to be educated, and we all need to think about how we can make a difference.”

This year UBCH CARD is proud to welcome Ms. Howard back, and to introduce Nita Levy, retired nurse and co-founder of Paul’s Club, a recreational program that supports people with Alzheimer disease and their families by providing a place for those living with Alzheimer disease to socialize and participate in creative and physical activities while offering respite for caregivers during weekdays.

“We really look forward to this event each year,” says Dr. Nygaard. “Our research scientists in particular are excited to be involved, as so much of what they do is detached from the reality of a patient’s or family member’s experience with the disease. Forums like the Alzheimer Update provide context for our research teams and students, which makes the work that they’re doing in labs at the DMCBH and across the university that much more meaningful.”

This year’s event will take place at the Life Sciences Centre at UBC on the morning of May 26, 2018. The forum is open to the public and free to attend. For more information, please visit our events calendar; to RSVP, please email card.clinic@ubc.ca.