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Taking steps to help combat cognitive loss

As the average age of Canadians continues to climb, the number of people with Alzheimer's disease, and other forms of dementia, also grows.

There are efforts to help people live better, longer lives and those initiatives were given a boost on Saturday with fundraising walks for the Alzheimer Society.

"We're going to be hitting almost a million Canadians in less than 10 years," said Maggie Scanlon.

Scanlon is the director of Programs and Services for the Alzheimer Society Southwest Partners, which represents the City of London, Ont., along with Middlesex, Elgin and Oxford Counties.

“All of the money raised here today helps support the programs and services that we offer, so they can be free. We really don’t want to have barriers to accessing programs and services,” she added.

The London walk, held at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, was one of four that took place across our region, with others in St. Thomas, Woodstock and Tillsonburg.

Jane and Billy Doran participated in the London Walk. Billy is coping with Alzheimer’s disease as Jane supports him.

“This walk means a lot to me,” said Jane. “It means more than anything, the support I've had from them."

Jane said that support is wide-ranging, "Different programs Bill and I have both attended. The emotional support, the educational support. Also, we take advantage of their volunteers who come and help us once a week for two-and-a-half hours."

Scanlon said Alzheimer Society Southwest Partners sees 150 new referrals a month. The London Walk is 13,500 steps, representing the number of people living with the disease in the region, "With the number people being diagnosed with a form of dementia, it's not just a person being diagnosed, it's all of the friends, family, neighbours that support them to ensure they can continue to live a really successful life in the community."

In recent weeks, there has been a significant announcement regarding a possible contributing factor to Alzheimer's disease, linking it to cholesterol. That may lead to new therapies.

There has also been encouraging news regarding an experimental drug that has the potential to slow cognitive loss. Top Stories

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