About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Bilingual Alzheimer’s Patients in Canada Often Feel Like Strangers in Their Own Country

by Kathy Jones on May 20, 2013 at 8:08 PM
Font : A-A+

 Bilingual Alzheimer’s Patients in Canada Often Feel Like Strangers in Their Own Country

Bilingual citizens of Canada who suffer from Alzheimer's are struggling to cope with the disease as it often makes them forget their second language, leaving them feeling like strangers in their own country.

Despite increasing evidence that bilingualism can actually delay the onset of dementia, those grappling with the ravages of the disease often find themselves isolated by the lack of essential services in their language of choice.

Advertisement

When Alzheimer's strikes, an people's ability to communicate in their second language often erodes rapidly.

Sylvie Lavoie told AFP she noticed a steady deterioration in her mother's ability to speak English fluently after she was diagnosed with the disease.
Advertisement

Her mother, Helene Tremblay-Lavoie, later took a test to measure her deterioration that provided conclusive evidence.

She scored nine marks out of 30 for a test in English contrasted with 19 out of 30 for the same test in French.

"The result was a terrible shock, a huge surprise," Lavoie told AFP. "Talking in French to my mother I had not noticed that she had lost her English.

"I noticed that she was speaking less and less English to my husband, who is anglophone, but I attributed that to the illness and general fatigue."

The case garnered attention in Canada. Tremblay-Lavoie was born in the French-speaking province of Quebec and lived in Toronto for 30 years, becoming fully bilingual.

However, when it came to finding a facility capable of caring for her mother, Lavoie discovered nothing was available for her mother in Toronto.

She eventually found a spot in a French-speaking hospice in the town of Welland, near Niagara Falls.

In response to the shortfall of spaces, the Helene Tremblay-Lavoie Foundation was set up last year with the goal of creating long-term care for francophones in the Toronto region.

"People who lose the ability to speak English are unilingual francophones who have learned English later in life," said Guy Proulx, a professor at York University who specializes in the assessment and rehabilitation of cognitive disorders in people suffering from strokes or dementia.

Proulx, a director of the foundation, cautioned that individuals who had been bilingual since childhood were less likely to lose the use of their second language.

"A bilingual from childhood won't lose it because it is automated, it is anchored in. When it is automated, it is more resistant to diseases like Alzheimer's," he explained.

Proulx and the foundation are hoping to set up a dedicated francophone clinic in the Toronto region that will feature a research center in the field of cognitive health and therapy for diseases like Alzheimer's.

Nearly 90 percent of francophones in Toronto -- some 125,000 people out of a population of 600,000 across Ontario -- are in relationships with non-francophones. The aim is to ensure these people can stay together when the disease strikes.

"Health care services in French are available in Toronto but they are scattered. They need to be structured," said Proulx.

Jean Roy, who chairs the foundation's board, said it had the support of the provincial and federal governments.

"The project will cost Can$200,000 per year for three years and we already have the money. It is only going to be a matter of months."

Source: AFP
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Contraceptive Pills in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Curtail Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Mushroom May Help Cut Down the Odds of Developing Depression
How to Battle Boredom during COVID
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.


Recommended Reading
Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting memory and thinking and ......
Brain Exercises to Improve Memory
An active brain can certainly help in improving memory by strengthening the connections between ......
Undetected Nutrient Deficiencies: The Cause of Ill Health
Micronutrient and antioxidant deficiencies are most common and go unnoticed. They are the root ......
Vitamin B12 - An Essential Vitamin
If you feel that the persistent or regular incidences of depression have got nothing to do with ......

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use