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Category "Seniors"

18Jun

Will this be another summer of wildfire smoke and poor air quality in B.C.?

by admin


Shell Road in Richmond was hit by a wildfire on July 27, 2018.


Francis Georgian / PNG

All indications suggest British Columbians should prepare for another smoky summer this year, experts warned today.

B.C. Wildfire information shows the province has so far this year seen increased drought and higher-than-average temperatures, which are expected to continue. Experts are predicting a greater risk of wildfires and smoke in the province this summer, particularly in the southwest, which includes Metro Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver air quality engineer Francis Reis said more studies are making a strong link between climate change and the exacerbation of wildfire seasons.

“As we continue to see further warming, we can expect the patterns we are seeing now to continue or even get more extreme,” he said.

Residents are reminded to try to stay indoors when air quality bulletins are issued.

The summers of 2017 and 2018 were the worst on record for smoky skies in B.C., caused by wildfires. This led to warnings that people take caution when outside, especially those with asthma, lung conditions, the elderly and pregnant women.

The hot, dry spring has many worried that 2019 could also bring hazy skies that are bad for residents’ health.

More to come…

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Twitter: @loriculbert




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26May

Daphne Bramham: Tougher new regulations promise more agony for chronic pain-sufferers

by admin

One in five Canadians lives with chronic pain, but the cries of an estimated 800,000 British Columbians are not only being ignored, their suffering is being exacerbated by regulators limiting their access to both drugs and treatment.

First, in a move unprecedented in North America, the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons imposed mandatory opioid and narcotic prescription limits on doctors in 2016 in an attempt to avoid creating additional addicts and having more prescription drugs sold on the street.

Physicians who don’t comply can be fined up to $100,000 or have their licences revoked.

Now, the college is setting tough regulations for physicians administering pain-management injections.

“I’m enraged,” says Kate Mills, a 33-year-old, palliative care nurse who has been on disability leave for the past 18 months. “People like me are living in chronic, intractable pain and being ignored by doctors who are either too scared or too callous to care.”

She has an uncommon, congenital condition that causes chronic inflammation near her sacroiliac joint and in her lower back, which pushes down on her nerves causing “exquisite pain” down her leg.

Her first doctor essentially fired her, refusing to treat the pain. The next one prescribed Oxycodone to help Mills through until she was able to receive a steroid injection at a clinic, which kept the pain in check for several months.

But by the time the injection’s effects were wearing off, her GP went on extended medical leave. The locum assigned to Mills refused to prescribe her any medication and told her to go to an emergency room where she was given a prescription.

After numerous ER visits, Mills finally found a doctor two weeks ago who is willing to provide medication for her between injections. But he agreed only after Mills signed a contract agreeing that she won’t sell the drugs, will only go to one pharmacy and take the drugs only as prescribed.

She is lucky, though. Her pain management clinic will likely meet the college’s new standards that were developed by an advisory panel over the past three years out of concern about patient safety.

“Increasingly,” the college says on its website, “Procedural pain management is being provided in private clinics and physician offices, but without much guidance on appropriate credentials, settings, techniques and equipment.”

The new regulations would require physicians’ offices or clinics to become accredited facilities with standards on par with ambulatory surgery centres.

That means having tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment including resuscitation carts, high-resolution ultrasound, automated external defibrillators and electronic cardiograms with printout capability.

The college acknowledges that “patients do not require continuous ECG monitoring. However, the cardiac monitoring equipment must be available in the event a patient has an unintended reaction to the procedure.”

The disruption for patients will be huge, according to Dr. Helene Bertrand, a general practitioner, pain researcher and clinical instructor at UBC’s medical school.

She estimates that up to 80 per cent of the offices and clinics where the injections are currently being done won’t measure up and already wait times are up to 18 months.

When the new requirements come into force, Bertrand predicts patients will be waiting anywhere from four to seven years for treatment.

Bertrand herself will have to quit doing prolotherapy, which she has done for the past 18 years on everything from shoulders to necks to spine to ankles. That’s despite the fact she’s never been sued, never had a complaint filed with the college and has published, peer-reviewed research that revealed an 89 per cent success rate among 211 patients in her study group.

(Prolotherapy involves injecting a sugar solution close to injured or painful joints causing inflammation. That inflammation increases the blood supply and deposits collagen on tendons and ligaments helping to repair them.)

The college will not grandfather general practitioners already doing injection therapies. Instead it will restrict general practitioners to knees, ankles and shoulders. All other joint injections must be done by anesthetists or pain specialists.

For Joan Bellamy, that’s a huge step backward.

She’s suffered from chronic pain since 1983 and “undergone the gamut of medical approaches, often with excessive waits: hospital OP (outpatient), pharmacology, neurology, orthopedics, spinal, physiatry and private.”

Since 2000, she’s had multiple injections that have made a difference. But her doctor doesn’t meet the new qualifications.

“I am afraid that without her expertise … that pain will become an intolerable burden, and any search for treatment will result in inconceivable wait times and will debilitate me,” Bellamy wrote in a letter to the college and copied to me.

The near future for pain-sufferers looks grim with most physicians able to offer them little more than over-the-counter painkillers.

Ironically at a time when the provincial medical health officer and others are lobbying hard to have all drugs legalized so that addicts have access to a safe supply, chronic pain-sufferers are being marginalized. For them, it’s more difficult than ever to get what they need.

It’s forcing many of them facing a lifetime of exquisite and unbearable pain to at least contemplate one of two deadly choices: Buy potentially fentanyl-laced street drugs; or worse, ask for medically assisted dying.

[email protected]

Twitter.com/Bramham_daphne

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19Apr

Town Talk: Style show made big hair even bigger

by admin

HATS OFF: Nobody expected Easter bonnets, fascinators or headgear of any kind when the Show It Off extravaganza filled the Vancouver Playh­­ouse recently. Hair alone was the attraction, and Avant Garde salon owner Jon Paul Holt and dancer-choreographer producer Viktoria Langton showcased plenty of it when the male and female show benefited B.C. Children’s Hospital. Stylist from the UK, across Canada and hereabouts created confections that, in most cases, were frothed up on models attired in the Playboy rather than Easter bunny manner.


Dee Daniels will return from her and Denzal Sinclaire’s U.S. tour to sing at Motown Meltdown’s benefit for Seva Canada’s eyesight-restoration efforts.

Malcolm Parry /

PNG

HIGH FLYERS: Early aviators gained surprising extra height by flying at top speed and jerking back the joystick. They called it the zoom climb. A century later in 2008, one-time television wunderkind Moses Znaimer applied the term to half-century-old folk able to elevate their lifestyles. Among now-77-year-old Znaimer’s related enterprises, Zoomer trade shows feature travel, financial, cannabis and health-and-wellness exhibitors. Entertainers, too.


Joy TV’s CARPe diem show host-producer Carmen Ruiz y Laza greeted Motown Meltdown’s Bill Semple and Kendra Sprinkling at the Zoomer Show.

Malcolm Parry /

PNG

The recent Zoomer show here saw Kendra Sprinkling produce a version of the 17th annual Motown Meltdown concert that will play the Commodore Ballroom April 27. Its beneficiary, Seva Canada, restores eyesight to thousands of global patients annually. One concert singer, Dee Daniels, will zoom home from her and Denzal Sinclaire’s touring tribute to the late Nat King Cole and daughter Natalie.


Vancouver Sun Sun Run columnist Lynn Kanuka and editor-in-chief Harold Munro welcomed guests at a reception preceding the 35th annual event.

Malcolm Parry /

PNG

FEET FEATS: Olympic bronze medallist Lynn Kanuka’s columns helped prepare Vancouver Sun reader for last weekend’s 35th annual Sun Run. She and run co-founders Doug and Diane Clement were acknowledged at a reception where Sun editor-in-chief Harold Munro noted that the 10k event’s earlier participants had covered the equivalent of 10 times around the world. Kanuka’s 2019 columns revealed that her training world extends northward to Burns Lake and New Aiyansh beyond Terrace. With three other regions, they’re part of her 10-year-old effort by which Indigenous leaders develop running and walking programs. Regarding such communities’ elders, “Their health has changed,” Kanuka said. “Their blood pressure has gone down.” So have blood-sugar and cholesterol levels, “One has even lost 100 pounds,” she whistled.

DO GO: Although tough by foot, the few B.C. residents following remote, spectacular Highway 37 north from New Aiyansh to the Alaska Highway should relish every one of its 750 kilometres.


Some wonder whether the brotherly love Jason Kenney had for Charlie Wu in 2015 will extend to other Vancouver residents now that he’s Alberta premier.

Malcolm Parry /

PNG

KENNEY, CAN HE? During 2015 TaiwanFest celebrations here, then-federal immigration minister Jason Kenney called festival manager and former University of San Francisco fellow student Charlie Wu “my Chinese brother with different mothers.” Let’s see if such familial regard for B.C. residents will continue.


Monica Soprovich, Tanya Perchall, Rebecca Bond and Carey Smith ringed host Zahra Salisbury at the Hotel Georgia’s Reflections terrace reopening.

Malcolm Parry /

PNG

SKY TIME: Springtime sees the Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s substantially open-air Reflection terrace reopen formally. Rain made the recent event rather more al drencho than fresco. But with one area permanently covered and some others tented, attendees stayed dry and, given the enhanced intimacy, possibly more reflective. They were hosted by Zahra Salisbury, whose brother Azim Jamal and uncle Joe Moosa founded Pacific Reach Properties that paid $145 million for the then-90-year-old hotel in 2017.

UP PARRYSCOPE: One block west on Georgia Street, the Depression-delayed Fairmont Hotel Vancouver will celebrate its 80th birthday on May 9.


Seen partying at his architecture firm’s old Gastown premises, keg-surrounded Michael Green literally raised the bar with an Armoury district move.

Malcolm Parry /

PNG

GREEN PARTIERS: Free drinks and a high-volume deejay would fill any Friday-night joint to the rafters. So it was when A-grade party giver and wood-structure-tower advocate Michael Green celebrated his self-named architecture firm’s move to Armoury-district space formerly occupied by Emily Carr University students. Despite a new climbing wall, Green’s guests didn’t actually reach the joint’s near-10-metre-high rafters.


Kelsey Kushneryk and Lindsay Owen alternate between piloting a Twin Otter and a rebuilt and re-engined DC3 aircraft between Arctic and Antarctic bases.

Malcolm Parry /

PNG

Still, two among them routinely reach higher altitudes in places quieter, colder and far more dangerous than False Creek shores. Former rodeo roper-funeral director Kelsey Kushneryk and partner Lindsay Owen are 4,000- and 5,000-hour pilots who have spent six seasons flying for Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air in Antarctica and the Canadian Arctic. Owen hit the news in 2017 as first officer aboard a Twin Otter that sped 14,000 km from Alberta to rescue two sick workers in ‑­­60 C temperature from near the blizzard-whipped South Pole. She and Kushneryk also pilot an 80-year-old DC-3 airliner that, like the same-age axe with four new heads and six new handles, has likely had every part replaced and turbine engines installed.


Vancouver International Centre for Asian Art interim head Yun-Jou Chang and president April Liu fronted 20th-anniversary celebrations at the Imperial.

Malcolm Parry /

PNG

A-PLUS: Now ensconced on Keefer Street with a 30-year lease, the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, aka Centre A, celebrated its 20th anniversary recently. President April Liu and interim executive director Yun Jou Chang welcomed centre founder Hank Bull and guests to the Main-off-Hastings Imperial where Chinese-language kung-fu movies once were screened. Las Vegas-born Liu is a Chinese art historian and Museum of Anthropology public-programs curator. Belgium-born, Taiwan-and-Prince-Rupert-raised Chang is vice-president of the pan-Asian Cinevolution Media Arts Society. As well as encouraging beginning artists, the centre “strives to activate contemporary art’s vital role in building and understanding the long and dynamic Asia-Canada relationship.”

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: While Chinese genetic scientists transfer human brain cells to monkeys, the reverse process may have been perfected in London, Ottawa and Washington, DC.

[email protected]
604-929-8456


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7Apr

Popularity of electric bikes growing on city roads and bike paths

by admin

At first, David Mallory thought riding an electric bike was the equivalent of cheating.

Things started to change when his wife Deb bought one about nine years ago. She decided it was the best way to conquer the hill to their home on West 10th in Vancouver.

As she zoomed up the hill, Mallory remembers pedalling on his 21-speed bike as fast as he could, trying to catch her. She won every time.

So he took her bike for a ride. When he engaged the motor, he felt like he was defying gravity.

Mallory was hooked.

“It’s hard to believe I’ve had an electric bike for that long — since 2011,” he said. “Not once have I gone: ‘I wish I hadn’t bought a bike.’ I would never go back to a regular bike. It’s just so much more fun.”

The experience Mallory and his wife have had with their electric bike isn’t unusual in Metro Vancouver. As the number of cyclists riding bicycles for commuting and recreation continues to increase, the kind of bikes they are using is also changing. More people than ever are riding electric bicycles, which also have functional pedals.

Both David and Deb are 63 and very active. Not only do they ride their e-bikes, they swim, play tennis and golf.

David has become particularly conscious of the importance of staying active as a way to keep his symptoms of multiple sclerosis at bay.


David Mallory has an electric bike that he rides everywhere he can with his wife Deb.

Francis Georgian /

PNG

This year, for example, he couldn’t wait for the snow to melt so he could use bigger panniers (a pair of bags or containers) on his bike to carry groceries. He estimates he has ridden 200 km this year — including a couple of trips to Richmond.

The Mallories have just upgraded their bikes to new German-made Kalkhoff bikes from Cit-E-Cycles. They bought them on sale for about $4,000.

“You see a lot of older people, a lot of seniors, riding electric bikes,” said Mallory, who retired five years ago on disability. “We ride as much as we can. We’ll ride to Granville Island to pick up something and come back. It’s really been a huge thing for us.”

The growth in the sale of electric bikes around the world is the “largest and most rapid uptake of alternative-fuelled vehicles in the history of motorization,” according to the Transport Reviews article E-bikes in the mainstream.

China leads the world in e-bike sales, followed by Netherlands and Germany. In 10 years, more than 150 million e-bikes have been sold worldwide.

The article concluded that since market penetration is low in most countries, there is little evidence to suggest that the sale of electric bikes will slow in coming years.

One example of the growth in e-bikes in Metro Vancouver is Cit-E-Cycles. Since opening its first location in 2011, the company has expanded to four outlets in Vancouver, Surrey, Langley and Victoria.

Doug Sutton, sales and service manager at the West Broadway store, said e-bike technology has improved in the past few years.

A big part of the market used to be conversion kits to adapt regular bikes to electric bikes. More recently, the location of motors has moved from the front or back wheels to the centre of the bike, which provides power to the wheel via the chain drive. Batteries have become more efficient as well.

The top price for an electric bike in his store is $10,000, although Sutton said he recently had a special order for a $20,000 bike. He said the sweet spot for most e-bike sales is between $3,500 and $5,000.

Everyone from grandparents to college students are buying e-bikes, he said. One growing segment is parents buying large, extended “cargo” bikes to pick up their children from school.

“Most people are looking for all-rounders,” he said. “They’re looking to ride to work, or ride on a gravel track, and people who are on a budget looking for the least expensive bike.”


Doug Sutton, a manager at Cit-E-Cycles, with a Riese and Muller electric bike in Vancouver. Cit-E-Cycles is one of the larger electric bike retailers in Metro Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Erin O’Melinn, executive director of bicycle advocacy group HUB Cycling, said while e-bikes represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the transportation market, she knows of no systemic estimate of their share of the overall bike numbers in Metro Vancouver.

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of people cycling to work increased from 4.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent, according to 2017 statistics from the City of Vancouver. More people ride to work in Vancouver than any other major city in the country.

Overall, the 2017 report card on walking and cycling said that “56 per cent of Vancouver residents are interested in cycling more often.

“This marks a significant increase citywide in a short period of time. In 2014, only 30 per cent of Vancouver residents were interested in cycling more often.”

O’Melinn said research into electric bikes and other micro-mobility devices such as scooters, mopeds and electric skateboards is in its infancy.

“HUB’s members have indicated a strong interest in this area and we are ramping up our efforts to understand how such technologies may be effectively encouraged and regulated to increase access to cycling to a broader range of ages, abilities and trip types,” she said by email.

Lon LaClaire, director of transportation for the City of Vancouver, believes electric bicycles have huge potential to create more cycling trips.

“We’re seeing it already with goods movements,” he said. The worker co-operative Shift Delivery in East Vancouver, he said, uses e-bikes.

“For others who don’t have the strength or don’t want to get sweaty, an e-bike is an option that previously wasn’t practical for them. … We’ll be looking at ways to support e-bikes.”

[email protected]


Biking in Metro Vancouver

• The City of Vancouver has a bike lane and path network of 322 km, 25 per cent of which are classed as top-AAA, which means for all ages and abilities. The longest segment is the 31.5 km seawall.

• Mobi, the City of Vancouver’s bike share, started in 2016 with 250 bikes at 23 stations. It now has 1,250 bikes in 125 stations. The goal is 1,500 bikes at 150 stations.

• Bike sharing has spread around Metro Vancouver. Locations include Richmond, Port Moody, and Port Coquitlam, and soon in Burnaby. On the North Shore, the City of North Vancouver is part of an initiative with the District of North Vancouver and West Vancouver to introduce electric bike share by this June.


What is an electric bike?

In B.C., an electric bike is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with a seat, functional pedals and an electric motor of up to 500 watts. It can’t be gas powered or travel faster than 32 km/h on level ground without pedalling. Anyone riding an e-bike has to wear a helmet and be 16 years of age or older.


Biking in Vancouver: By the numbers

The City of Vancouver maintains automated bike counters at 10 locations around town, and reports monthly volumes rounded to the nearest thousand.

Science World

July 2013: 167,000

July 2014: 187,000

July 2015: 195,000

July 2016: 193,000

July 2017: 227,000

July 2018: 239,000

Union and Hawks

July 2013: 101,000

July 2014: *

July 2015: 115,000

July 2016: 111,000

July 2017: 120,000

July 2018: 127,000

Burrard Bridge

Jan 2010: 46,000

Jan 2011: 41,000

Jan 2012: 35,000

Jan 2013: 35,000

Jan 2014: 54,000

Jan 2015: 62,000

Jan 2016: 53,000

Jan 2017: 40,000

Jan 2018: 47,000

* Data not available due to technical problems with counter

Data from City of Vancouver’s automated bike counters are available online


A move to fill ‘gaps in the map’

Burnaby’s decision to eliminate an unsafe bottleneck for cyclists is an encouraging move toward creating a connected bike network in the region, says bicycle advocacy group HUB Cycling.

HUB says safer bike routes will in turn persuade more people to start riding bikes.

The big change coming for cyclists in Burnaby is on the Gilmore Overpass above the Trans Canada Highway. Built in 1964, the overpass is one of 400 spots in Metro Vancouver identified by HUB as obstacles that discourage an estimated 40 per cent of people from riding their bike.

Burnaby council recently approved spending more than $2 million to add to about $900,000 from TransLink to build a protected bike path on the west side of the overpass by the end of the year.

Joe Keithley, a Green Party councillor, said Burnaby has been able to act quickly on the project because a plan for the overpass came before council more than three years ago but was shelved.

Keithley said he and Mayor Mike Hurley, both elected last fall, wanted to do something as soon as possible to encourage cycling and sustainable transportation in Burnaby.

“We have to get more north-south and east-west bike paths in Burnaby,” he said. “We’re way behind Vancouver.”

The permanent changes to the road mean restricting motor vehicles to one north bound lane to create a 3.5-metre-wide path for pedestrians and northbound and southbound bikes. The lane closure would stretch from Myrtle Street to Dominion Street.

Keithley said the city lobbied the province to replace the overpass, which has been hit several times by trucks since the Trans Canada Highway was widened, but Victoria said it wasn’t going to spend millions of dollars on a new overpass for another 20 to 25 years.

“We thought this would be an expedient and economical way to help people,” Keithley said by phone.

“If you want to encourage a generation of cyclists, start them early. If you want to ride with your kid or grandson, you’d feel totally safe with this new plan.”

Erin O’Melinn, executive director of HUB Cycling, said research has shown that unsafe spots, such as the one on Gilmore, are the top reason that people are discouraged from riding a bike.

HUB calls them gaps in the map — specific locations where bike routes end abruptly without any safe alternative for cyclists.

Citing data from TransLink’s trip diary survey, O’Melinn said many people want to ride their bikes but are held back by unsafe and disconnected bike routes.

“There are gaps all over the region where people do not feel safe and there is no reasonable way to get from A to B,” O’Melinn said.

“Imagine if there were streets for cars that ended abruptly and you couldn’t get to where you had to go, and had to get out and walk your car.”

“It happens all the time when you’re on a bike. When we ungap the map, the region will have safe, direct, paved bikeways that will allow people of all ages and abilities to get where they want to go.”

HUB Biking has an interactive map identifying gaps in the cycling routes in Metro Vancouver. People can adopt gaps in their neighbourhood by making a $50 contribution to help “ungap the map,” or commuters can tell a story about why the gap matters to them.

HUB’s recent successes in eliminating some of the gaps in the map include a one-way protected bike lane along 80 Avenue from 128th Street to 132nd Street in Surrey and a commitment from Langley Township to match TransLink’s $500,000 to expand commuter bike lanes to include Murrayville.


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7Apr

Popularity of electric bikes growing on city roads and bike paths

by admin

At first, David Mallory thought riding an electric bike was the equivalent of cheating.

Things started to change when his wife Deb bought one about nine years ago. She decided it was the best way to conquer the hill to their home on West 10th in Vancouver.

As she zoomed up the hill, Mallory remembers pedalling on his 21-speed bike as fast as he could, trying to catch her. She won every time.

So he took her bike for a ride. When he engaged the motor, he felt like he was defying gravity.

Mallory was hooked.

“It’s hard to believe I’ve had an electric bike for that long — since 2011,” he said. “Not once have I gone: ‘I wish I hadn’t bought a bike.’ I would never go back to a regular bike. It’s just so much more fun.”

The experience Mallory and his wife have had with their electric bike isn’t unusual in Metro Vancouver. As the number of cyclists riding bicycles for commuting and recreation continues to increase, the kind of bikes they are using is also changing. More people than ever are riding electric bicycles, which also have functional pedals.

Both David and Deb are 63 and very active. Not only do they ride their e-bikes, they swim, play tennis and golf.

David has become particularly conscious of the importance of staying active as a way to keep his symptoms of multiple sclerosis at bay.


David Mallory has an electric bike that he rides everywhere he can with his wife Deb.

Francis Georgian /

PNG

This year, for example, he couldn’t wait for the snow to melt so he could use bigger panniers (a pair of bags or containers) on his bike to carry groceries. He estimates he has ridden 200 km this year — including a couple of trips to Richmond.

The Mallories have just upgraded their bikes to new German-made Kalkhoff bikes from Cit-E-Cycles. They bought them on sale for about $4,000.

“You see a lot of older people, a lot of seniors, riding electric bikes,” said Mallory, who retired five years ago on disability. “We ride as much as we can. We’ll ride to Granville Island to pick up something and come back. It’s really been a huge thing for us.”

The growth in the sale of electric bikes around the world is the “largest and most rapid uptake of alternative-fuelled vehicles in the history of motorization,” according to the Transport Reviews article E-bikes in the mainstream.

China leads the world in e-bike sales, followed by Netherlands and Germany. In 10 years, more than 150 million e-bikes have been sold worldwide.

The article concluded that since market penetration is low in most countries, there is little evidence to suggest that the sale of electric bikes will slow in coming years.

One example of the growth in e-bikes in Metro Vancouver is Cit-E-Cycles. Since opening its first location in 2011, the company has expanded to four outlets in Vancouver, Surrey, Langley and Victoria.

Doug Sutton, sales and service manager at the West Broadway store, said e-bike technology has improved in the past few years.

A big part of the market used to be conversion kits to adapt regular bikes to electric bikes. More recently, the location of motors has moved from the front or back wheels to the centre of the bike, which provides power to the wheel via the chain drive. Batteries have become more efficient as well.

The top price for an electric bike in his store is $10,000, although Sutton said he recently had a special order for a $20,000 bike. He said the sweet spot for most e-bike sales is between $3,500 and $5,000.

Everyone from grandparents to college students are buying e-bikes, he said. One growing segment is parents buying large, extended “cargo” bikes to pick up their children from school.

“Most people are looking for all-rounders,” he said. “They’re looking to ride to work, or ride on a gravel track, and people who are on a budget looking for the least expensive bike.”


Doug Sutton, a manager at Cit-E-Cycles, with a Riese and Muller electric bike in Vancouver. Cit-E-Cycles is one of the larger electric bike retailers in Metro Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Erin O’Melinn, executive director of bicycle advocacy group HUB Cycling, said while e-bikes represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the transportation market, she knows of no systemic estimate of their share of the overall bike numbers in Metro Vancouver.

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of people cycling to work increased from 4.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent, according to 2017 statistics from the City of Vancouver. More people ride to work in Vancouver than any other major city in the country.

Overall, the 2017 report card on walking and cycling said that “56 per cent of Vancouver residents are interested in cycling more often.

“This marks a significant increase citywide in a short period of time. In 2014, only 30 per cent of Vancouver residents were interested in cycling more often.”

O’Melinn said research into electric bikes and other micro-mobility devices such as scooters, mopeds and electric skateboards is in its infancy.

“HUB’s members have indicated a strong interest in this area and we are ramping up our efforts to understand how such technologies may be effectively encouraged and regulated to increase access to cycling to a broader range of ages, abilities and trip types,” she said by email.

Lon LaClaire, director of transportation for the City of Vancouver, believes electric bicycles have huge potential to create more cycling trips.

“We’re seeing it already with goods movements,” he said. The worker co-operative Shift Delivery in East Vancouver, he said, uses e-bikes.

“For others who don’t have the strength or don’t want to get sweaty, an e-bike is an option that previously wasn’t practical for them. … We’ll be looking at ways to support e-bikes.”

[email protected]


Biking in Metro Vancouver

• The City of Vancouver has a bike lane and path network of 322 km, 25 per cent of which are classed as top-AAA, which means for all ages and abilities. The longest segment is the 31.5 km seawall.

• Mobi, the City of Vancouver’s bike share, started in 2016 with 250 bikes at 23 stations. It now has 1,250 bikes in 125 stations. The goal is 1,500 bikes at 150 stations.

• Bike sharing has spread around Metro Vancouver. Locations include Richmond, Port Moody, and Port Coquitlam, and soon in Burnaby. On the North Shore, the City of North Vancouver is part of an initiative with the District of North Vancouver and West Vancouver to introduce electric bike share by this June.


What is an electric bike?

In B.C., an electric bike is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with a seat, functional pedals and an electric motor of up to 500 watts. It can’t be gas powered or travel faster than 32 km/h on level ground without pedalling. Anyone riding an e-bike has to wear a helmet and be 16 years of age or older.


Biking in Vancouver: By the numbers

The City of Vancouver maintains automated bike counters at 10 locations around town, and reports monthly volumes rounded to the nearest thousand.

Science World

July 2013: 167,000

July 2014: 187,000

July 2015: 195,000

July 2016: 193,000

July 2017: 227,000

July 2018: 239,000

Union and Hawks

July 2013: 101,000

July 2014: *

July 2015: 115,000

July 2016: 111,000

July 2017: 120,000

July 2018: 127,000

Burrard Bridge

Jan 2010: 46,000

Jan 2011: 41,000

Jan 2012: 35,000

Jan 2013: 35,000

Jan 2014: 54,000

Jan 2015: 62,000

Jan 2016: 53,000

Jan 2017: 40,000

Jan 2018: 47,000

* Data not available due to technical problems with counter

Data from City of Vancouver’s automated bike counters are available online


A move to fill ‘gaps in the map’

Burnaby’s decision to eliminate an unsafe bottleneck for cyclists is an encouraging move toward creating a connected bike network in the region, says bicycle advocacy group HUB Cycling.

HUB says safer bike routes will in turn persuade more people to start riding bikes.

The big change coming for cyclists in Burnaby is on the Gilmore Overpass above the Trans Canada Highway. Built in 1964, the overpass is one of 400 spots in Metro Vancouver identified by HUB as obstacles that discourage an estimated 40 per cent of people from riding their bike.

Burnaby council recently approved spending more than $2 million to add to about $900,000 from TransLink to build a protected bike path on the west side of the overpass by the end of the year.

Joe Keithley, a Green Party councillor, said Burnaby has been able to act quickly on the project because a plan for the overpass came before council more than three years ago but was shelved.

Keithley said he and Mayor Mike Hurley, both elected last fall, wanted to do something as soon as possible to encourage cycling and sustainable transportation in Burnaby.

“We have to get more north-south and east-west bike paths in Burnaby,” he said. “We’re way behind Vancouver.”

The permanent changes to the road mean restricting motor vehicles to one north bound lane to create a 3.5-metre-wide path for pedestrians and northbound and southbound bikes. The lane closure would stretch from Myrtle Street to Dominion Street.

Keithley said the city lobbied the province to replace the overpass, which has been hit several times by trucks since the Trans Canada Highway was widened, but Victoria said it wasn’t going to spend millions of dollars on a new overpass for another 20 to 25 years.

“We thought this would be an expedient and economical way to help people,” Keithley said by phone.

“If you want to encourage a generation of cyclists, start them early. If you want to ride with your kid or grandson, you’d feel totally safe with this new plan.”

Erin O’Melinn, executive director of HUB Cycling, said research has shown that unsafe spots, such as the one on Gilmore, are the top reason that people are discouraged from riding a bike.

HUB calls them gaps in the map — specific locations where bike routes end abruptly without any safe alternative for cyclists.

Citing data from TransLink’s trip diary survey, O’Melinn said many people want to ride their bikes but are held back by unsafe and disconnected bike routes.

“There are gaps all over the region where people do not feel safe and there is no reasonable way to get from A to B,” O’Melinn said.

“Imagine if there were streets for cars that ended abruptly and you couldn’t get to where you had to go, and had to get out and walk your car.”

“It happens all the time when you’re on a bike. When we ungap the map, the region will have safe, direct, paved bikeways that will allow people of all ages and abilities to get where they want to go.”

HUB Biking has an interactive map identifying gaps in the cycling routes in Metro Vancouver. People can adopt gaps in their neighbourhood by making a $50 contribution to help “ungap the map,” or commuters can tell a story about why the gap matters to them.

HUB’s recent successes in eliminating some of the gaps in the map include a one-way protected bike lane along 80 Avenue from 128th Street to 132nd Street in Surrey and a commitment from Langley Township to match TransLink’s $500,000 to expand commuter bike lanes to include Murrayville.


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22Mar

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ advocate to step down and review of office

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The B.C. Care Providers Association is calling for the resignation of Isobel Mackenzie, the province’s seniors’ advocate, alleging her relationship with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership has been too “cosy.”


RICHARD LAM / PNG

The B.C. Care Providers Association is calling for the resignation of the province’s seniors’ advocate, alleging her relationship with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership has been too “cosy.”

In a statement, the association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of the Office of the Seniors’ Advocate.

But seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie says she never did anything inappropriate, adding that consulting and collaborating with stakeholders is part of her mandate.

The association alleges that documents obtained through a freedom of information request show Mackenzie collaborated closely with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership in shaping a report on the transfer of patients from care homes to hospitals.

The report, called “From Residential Care to Hospital: An Emerging Pattern,” was released in August and followed complaints from emergency room clinicians that some care homes were sending residents to the emergency department unnecessarily.

The association alleges she shared draft language of the report with the union, incorporated its feedback and notified the union of the planned timing of the report’s release.

In contrast, it says the care providers association was never advised in advance by Mackenzie’s office on the release of the report and its members were never notified beforehand of its findings.

“We have tried to work with the seniors’ advocate over the years with mixed results,” it says in a statement.

“The release of this FOI provides us with a disturbing insight into which organization is having the most profound influence over the OSA.”

Mackenzie told The Canadian Press the report was independent from the Hospital Employees’ Union.

“What they’ve chosen to say is, ‘Well she colluded with the HEU on this report,’ to which I’m saying, ‘Well how?’ The results, the methodology, the data sources — it’s all there. That has nothing to do with the HEU,” she said.

She said sharing contents of reports with some stakeholders or members of an opposition party is common practice.

“Everybody does that,” she said.

In the past, Mackenzie said she has shared content from reports that are favourable to the B.C. Care Providers Association in advance and not with the Hospital Employees’ Union.

In this case, she said her office shared contents of the report in advance with health authorities, the union and contracted care providers, which includes members of the B.C. Care Providers Association. She said her office has a relationship with care providers, but no obligation to the industry association.

Mackenzie suggested the association is calling for her resignation because it didn’t like the content of a report that found contracted care providers transfer patients to hospitals more often.

“The B.C. Care Providers took great offence to this report. What’s interesting is when the reports serve their interests, they don’t have this problem,” she said.

Mackenzie said she is not considering resigning.

The association is also calling for a full and independent review of the office.

Unlike other advocates that are independent, such as the B.C. Ombudsperson or the children and youth advocate, the seniors’ advocate reports to the Health Ministry, which couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The association says it also wasn’t consulted on a decision by the B.C. government to move more than 4,000 home support jobs from the private sector to public health authorities, and accused Mackenzie of failing to press the government on that decision.

“Not one question was posed by her to government on their reason for the change, or if any analysis had been provided,” it said.

“For BCCPA, this was a tipping point.”

Mackenzie said she was briefed by the deputy minister and health authorities in advance of the decision and she found there was an argument to be made for the change.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the office’s position under his ministry has never stopped Mackenzie, who was appointed five years ago by the previous Liberal government, from criticizing him or the ministry freely.

“She has criticized the NDP government, the Liberal government, the care providers and just about everyone else in her advocacy,” Dix said Thursday.

Dix said he has personally been on the receiving end of her criticism but he recognizes that’s her mandate and said she does a “good job.”

“If people want to make the argument for a long-term review of what the status of the office should be, that’s something the care providers and everyone else could look at and I think absolutely could be considered,” he said.


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9Mar

No place to go for homeless hospital patients after release: advocate

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The Fraser Health Authority says it is investigating after Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove raised concerns about a 76-year-old woman who was discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent by taxi to the Chilliwack Salvation Army shelter, despite mobility and incontinence issues.

On Thursday, the mayor requested a meeting with Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee to discuss “why vulnerable people are being sent to Chilliwack homeless shelters from another community.”

He cited the case of an elderly woman who had no family in Chilliwack, but arrived at the local shelter from the Surrey hospital in early February. Shelter staff were not prepared to care for her medical needs, which included severe incontinence.


Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove has taken issue with a Fraser Health decision to send vulnerable hospital patients to the Chilliwack homeless shelter.

Submitted photo /

PNG

“Constantly cleaning up fecal matter … is a serious concern for both staff and shelter clients,” said Popove in a letter to Lee.

Fraser Health spokesman Dixon Tam said Fraser Health makes “every effort” to find homeless patients a place to go when they are clinically stable and ready to leave the hospital, but “finding suitable housing is a challenge across our region.”

Tam said: “We are committed to continue to work closely with B.C. Housing and our municipal partners to develop more options. At the same time, we need to be careful not to use hospital beds as an alternative to stable housing.”

Abbotsford homeless advocate Jesse Wegenast said he wasn’t surprised to read the Chilliwack mayor’s account in the newspaper, “but only because it’s such a common practice.”

Wegenast’s organization, The 5 and 2 Ministries, opened a winter homeless shelter in Abbotsford on Nov. 1. The next day, he received a call from a Vancouver General Hospital administrator asking if he had space for an 81-year-old patient.

Wegenast said he often says no to accepting patients because the shelter is not open 24 hours and people must leave during the day. He’s had requests to take people with severe mobility issues, as well as those who need help with toileting or washing.

“The people who work at shelters are often very compassionate, and if the hospital says, ‘Well, we’re not keeping them,’ they feel obligated to help,” said Wegenast.


Abbotsford pastor and homeless advocate Jesse Wegenast.

Ward Perrin /

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The pastor said he’s rarely seen people in shelters receive home care or followup care, and it’s also difficult for them to get prescriptions filled.

Wegenast helped a low-income senior on Friday who recently had half of his foot amputated. The man lives in an apartment and was receiving home care to help with dressing changes, but he’d been unable to get antibiotics for five days since being released from hospital.

“When you have people exiting acute care at the hospital and there’s no one to follow that up, it’s bad for that person’s health, and it’s also bad for public health in general,” he said.

Unlike Wegenast, Warren Macintyre was surprised to read about the Chilliwack woman’s situation because it confirmed that the experience he’d had with Fraser Health was not uncommon.

“I really had no idea this kind of thing was going on,” he said.

Three weeks ago, a close family member was admitted to Surrey Memorial after suffering from alcohol withdrawal, said Macintyre. He was placed on life support in the intensive care unit for about 10 days. When he was stable, he planned to enter a treatment program in Abbotsford, but there weren’t any beds available until March 14.

“We were told the plan was to keep him in hospital until then, but I got a call Wednesday telling me he’d been discharged,” said Macintyre.

Surrey Memorial had sent his relative to the treatment centre, where staff repeated they had no space, so he was returned to the hospital. The man, who had been staying at the Maple Ridge Salvation Army before his hospital admission, took a cab to a friend’s house.

His family is hoping he’ll be able to stay sober until he can get into treatment March 14.

“I told the hospital, if he goes back on the booze, he’ll be right back here,” said Macintyre.

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7Mar

Fraser Health rapped: Sent patients to Chilliwack homeless shelter

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The exterior of Surrey Memorial Hospital.


The exterior of Surrey Memorial Hospital.


Arlen Redekop / PNG files

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove is demanding answers from the Fraser Health Authority after a 76-year-old woman with mobility and severe incontinence issues was discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent by taxi to the Chilliwack Salvation Army shelter early last month.

In a letter to Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee, the mayor said he is aware of two cases in which shelter staff were asked to take patients from the Surrey hospital without being told about the care they required.

“A homeless shelter is no place for a person with health concerns or special medical needs,” the mayor said in the letter, which was sent to Fraser Health on Tuesday. “Discharging patients into homeless shelters when they still require some level of care is not an acceptable practice. Homeless shelters provide clients with a cot for the night which is not suitable for a recently discharged patient.”

In his letter, the mayor recounted the case of an elderly woman who arrived from the hospital by taxi on Feb. 2.

“According to the Salvation Army, this elderly individual arrived with a walker and some significant health concerns, including incontinence, and is unable to clean herself,” said Popove. “Shortly after her arrival, it was clear that the Salvation Army would be unable to accommodate her at their shelter due to sanitary and safety concerns.”

The woman was transferred to a temporary shelter without stairs, but “her physical and mental health needs continued to make it impossible for staff to care for her.” She left the shelter on her own and returned to the Salvation Army.

On Feb. 22, the shelter received another call from Fraser Health about a man who was being discharged from Surrey Memorial and needed a bed.

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove.


Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove.

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“After further investigation, they learned that the patient was in a wheelchair, had open wounds on his feet and needed to be in a hospital bed,” said the mayor. “This information was not disclosed by the social worker, and shelter staff realized they would be unable to provide the level of care this individual requires.”

The mayor asked the Fraser Health CEO to answer several questions, including whether hospitals regularly discharge patients into homeless shelters.

“I would like to know why vulnerable people are being sent to Chilliwack homeless shelters from another community,” Popove added. “How is it possible that a 76-year-old woman with multiple significant health concerns could have been discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent via taxi to a homeless shelter in Chilliwack over 70 kilometres away from her home, friends and family?”

Popove asked for a meeting with Lee to discuss the situation and “to ensure this woman is reconnected with her community and proper care.”

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said Fraser Health received the letter late Wednesday and is looking into the mayor’s claims. She could not comment on specific cases, but explained that patients are sometimes discharged from hospital into a shelter when they are “deemed to be medically stable.”

Like someone who is being discharged to a home, Fraser Health ensures community supports are in place for the person, and shelter staff are informed and must agree to the situation, she said.

Juma was unable to say if Fraser Health staff followed this procedure in the two cases mentioned by Popove in his letter.

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27Feb

Dementia law report recommends better oversight on health care consent

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Jim Mann wants everyone to know that he’s more than his dementia.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 12 years ago, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be involved in making decisions about his health.

The distinction is important for Mann — and many others living with dementia. The Surrey resident is thinking a lot about consent these days after being part of an advisory committee on health care consent for people with dementia. Their report, Conversations About Care, was released Feb. 27.


Surrey resident Jim Mann was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 12 years ago.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Mann, 70, said professionals in health care still make assumptions about people with dementia.

He recalled an emergency room incident when a nurse yelled his name and added “patient only.”

“My wife and I stood up and walked over. Halfway there, she (the nurse) yelled again ‘patient only.’ I got up to her and said ‘my wife needs to be with me. I have Alzheimer’s.’ She turned around and looked me up and down and said ‘well, you look fine.’ “

Mann said that while the public might not always understand that dementia is a cognitive impairment not a physical one and therefore not visible, he believes that kind of language isn’t acceptable in a health care environment.

“Within the medical system, I’m sorry, you should really know this by now,” he said.


Jim Mann says professionals in health care still make assumptions about people with dementia.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

The two-year collaborative research project that Mann was a part of was undertaken by the Canadian Centre for Elder Law and the Alzheimer Society of B.C. Funding included a $40,000 grant from the Law Foundation of B.C.

The goal of the project’s Conversations About Care report is to ensure that the legal framework in B.C. remains strong enough to protect people living with dementia as well as those named as their legal substitutes.

In 2018, about 70,000 people in B.C. were living with dementia. By 2033, that number is estimated to increase to almost 120,000.

Krista James, national director of Canadian Centre for Elder Law at the University of B.C., said the report is intended to start a conversation about the rights of people with dementia.

“I feel that we’re missing that rights-based lens that recognizes the rights of older people to make choices about what happens to them,” she said.

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“Although the law is different in each jurisdiction, and this report applies specifically to the experience in B.C., we need to open up that conversation to think about the citizenship rights of older people in a health care context. It’s really urgent.”

The report’s 34 recommendations were developed through a process that included consultation with people living with dementia, family caregivers, health care professionals, and others who deal with consent on a regular basis.

James said the origins of the report came from phone calls she received from family caregivers who felt frustrated that decisions were being made without consultation.

B.C. is ahead of many other provinces because of our comprehensive health care consent statute called the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act.

“From our perspective, the health care consent law in B.C. is super robust and I think fairly clear,” James said.

“It says if it’s not an emergency, you need to get that prior informed consent. The care facility regulations that govern long term care don’t seem to be consistent. There is a lot more wiggle room.”

That means some physicians, licensed practical nurses and care aids don’t understand the concept of prior informed consent for non-emergency care.

“I have talked to a few people who think that if the person is in the care facility they have consented to all the care that the people who work there think is the right care for them,” she said.

“Some of the staff don’t understand they have to get consent. They confuse admission to the care facility with consent to all the meds.”

One of the report’s recommendations calls for all licensed long-term care facilities to set out rules on restraints, including chemical restraints (medications such as antipsychotics used to control aggressive behaviour).

Other big concerns include the challenge of sorting out situations where family members making decisions about care for someone with dementia can’t agree on what to do. One way to address that, James said, is to have social workers involved in helping families find a solution.

James said the report recognizes that health care providers are never going to be experts on the law.

“They’re not lawyers,” she said. “We shouldn’t expect them to be experts on the finer details of the law. They need to have support so they can properly interpret the law.”

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Recommendations of the report

• Improving health care decision-making laws in B.C. by adding language to recognize that people’s capacity to make health care decisions can vary from day to day and decision to decision, and that they be involved to the greatest degree possible in all case planning and decision-making.

• Address barriers to informed consent experienced by Indigenous people and people who need language interpretation, and create financial incentives to support physicians so they can spend time to talk with patients and families.

• Create a review tribunal to allow people living with dementia to review health care decisions made by substitute decision makers.

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7Jan

Alzheimer Awareness Months targets stigma around disease

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Lisa Glanville, left, is the daughter of and caregiver for her mother Ollie, who has dementia.


Arlen Redekop / PNG

One of the biggest stigmas around dementia is that you’re going to develop the disease if you grow old, according to seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie.

For January’s Alzheimer Awareness Month, Mackenzie said the biggest stereotype she wants to break down is the belief that the majority of British Columbians 85 and older have dementia. They don’t.

“If you look at age 85 and over, 20 per cent do have a diagnosis of dementia — but four out of five don’t,” Mackenzie said Monday.

When it comes to nursing homes, most people might think that every resident has dementia or Alzheimer’s. In fact, about 35 per cent don’t and two-thirds have only mild cognitive impairment, she said.

Mackenzie said dementia is a spectrum. Someone who is diagnosed with dementia may be fully competent in some areas but not in others. In some cases, a person may never go on to develop full dementia.

“It’s a journey,” she said.

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In B.C. in 2018 about 70,000 people were living with dementia. By 2033, that’s expected to increase to almost 120,000.

Experts don’t believe the rate of dementia is changing. Instead, the numbers are increasing because there are more older people living longer than ever before.

The aim of this year’s Alzheimer Awareness Month is to eliminate the stigma around the disease by changing attitudes. Events culminate on Jan. 31 with a two-hour open house starting at 3 p.m. at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Resource Centre, 301 — 828 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver.


Lisa Glanville and her mother Ollie enjoy a walk in the Vancouver sunshine.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

One family dealing with the affects of dementia is that of Lisa Glanville and her mother Ollie, 82.

Glanville said her mother worked for years as the property manager of Vancouver apartment buildings she owned after her husband died. She also worked as a bartender at the Billy Bishop Legion in Kitsilano.

Glanville said she’s seen stigma directed against her mother when she went to an estate planner and explored options for nursing homes. She was told that it didn’t matter because her mother’s dementia meant she wouldn’t remember anything.

Glanville said the most challenging times for her was before her mother was officially diagnosed. When she found out that her grandfather died of Alzheimer’s, she wondered if her mother had it. Initially, her mother passed tests measuring her cognitive abilities.

But Glanville noticed that things were starting to go awry. One day, she discovered that her mother’s online accounts were locked because someone had unsuccessfully tried to access them.

On another occasion, her mother showed her a cup with five of her molars in it. She’d never told her daughter she had any problem with her teeth.

“I thought: ‘Whoa, what is going on here?’” Glanville said.

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The clincher was a visit to the dentist.

“The receptionist said to me after my mom went in. ‘Can I give you some advice?’. I said ‘sure.’ ’Have you got enduring power of attorney yet for her Alzheimer’s?’”

Since Glanville is an only child, her mother’s well being become her responsibility. As part of her efforts to seek help, she started attending monthly Alzheimer caregivers support group meetings at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.

“The validation is incredible,” she said.

Morgan Donahue, support and education coordinator at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Vancouver Resource Centre, said she believes that there is a lot of shame associated with a diagnosis of dementia.

She said the stigma can even discourage people from getting a diagnosis or even telling people they have been diagnosed.

In a survey by the Alzheimer Society in 2018, one in five Canadians said they would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia; one in five admitted to using derogatory or stigmatizing language about dementia.

“I’ve heard so many family members say they wish their family member had cancer because there is so much more of an understanding and acceptance of cancer than this disease,” Donahue said.

An early diagnosis can mean the person is displaying few, if any, symptoms at first.

“This disease is often so invisible, as with other mental health challenges.”

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Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is aiming to address stigma around Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

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