Portrait of a woman committed against dementia

Camille Isaacs Morell, vice-president of the organization Hope for Dementiahas launched a petition to the National Assembly to denounce a “tsunami” of diagnoses in Quebec.

In Quebec, at least 153,000 people suffer from dementia, and this figure would be greatly underestimated, for lack of diagnoses in the primary stages.

A petition will be submitted by Marwah Rizqy, MP for Saint-Laurent, in the fall of 2022. Currently, approximately 500 people have signed this petition asking that the prevention of dementia diseases be made a national health priority. public. A petition had been submitted to the House of Commons of Canada last fall by the federal deputy for Saint-Laurent, Emmanuella Lambropoulos.

A personal commitment

A resident of Dorval for 17 years, Camille Isaacs Morell became personally involved in this cause after her father succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago. After ten years of degeneration, he died in his native country, Jamaica, while she has lived in Quebec since 1993.

Coming out of a career in the financial sector, but still personally involved in mental health, she became the general manager of the Alzheimer Society of Montreal for three years, from 2017 to the end of 2020.

At the start of the pandemic, Ms. Isaacs Morell refused to suspend the services offered by the Alzheimer Society of Montreal. The organization remained active by telephone or videoconference, because the executive director felt it was necessary to mitigate the symptoms. The social isolation accentuated by confinements has also contributed to the deterioration of the mental health of the elderly, and therefore to the growth of dementia diagnoses.

“I tried to retire, but it’s not possible. Hope for Dementia wanted to expand the scope of their programs, and when they saw that I was retiring, they asked me to help out.”

She explains that treatments are often not comprehensive, and that accommodation for people with dementia is not sufficient.

“Even though his mind and his body were ravaged, attacked by the cursed disease, he continued to be the same person, she explains, speaking of her father. When we house people, we treat the disease, and not necessarily the person.”

Concrete and innovative measures

Unlike typical treatments, Hope for Dementia works to “reverse the growth curve” of diagnoses by relying on several concrete prevention measures.

The petition emphasizes automatic screening of at-risk populations, and public education to encourage investment in research funds.

“Prevention is where I put all my efforts,” says Ms. Isaacs Morell. Even if these degenerative diseases cannot be cured, “there are rays of hope in terms of the risks,” she explains.

There are twelve increased risk factors for dementia, and targeting vulnerable populations would reduce diagnoses by 40%. These risk factors range from smoking and alcoholism to social isolation, diabetes and obesity. So many factors that push to find various solutions to reduce the number of diagnoses.

For example, Ms. Isaacs Morell advocates healthy eating as a preventative measure against dementia. The organization also distributes food baskets, especially vegetables and healthy foods, for people at risk who are unable to afford them.

One thousand baskets of food are distributed per week in Saint-Laurent, and the initiative is beginning to take shape in Laval and Saint-Léonard.

The vice-president intends to “promote in the West Island and in the rest of the province”, but that requires funds, and a greater national interest.

In Dorval, “there are more and more residences for aging populations”, but “we need to do a lot more awareness and community education”, she concludes.

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