8th Canadian Conference on Dementia (CCD) – From Social, Cultural and Ethical Issues to Dementia Care, Diagnosis and Management

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By: Usman Saeed

The prevalence of dementia is on the rise and so is the awareness surrounding the many important issues related to dementia care, diagnosis, and management. The research in this area is exploding, so much so that it can be challenging to stay up-to-date with the cutting-edge developments, which may set the stage for future explorations. The Canadian Conference on Dementia (CCD) offers such a learning opportunity and a platform for physicians and researchers to communicate clinically relevant knowledge in dementia research. The most recent program was organized as a three-day event from October 1st to 3rd, at the heart of the capital city of Canada–a fabulous destination in its own right. The planning committee comprised of well-respected professionals, co-chaired by Dr. Sandra Black and Dr. Ron Keren. Needless to say, I was excited and honored to be one of the five selected to present at the ‘New and Notable–Oral Research Presentations’ session of the conference.

The program covered a plethora of topics, which were offered to the registrants based on their individualistic interests. On the first day after the registration and opening remarks, the program began with a careful but optimistic talk by Dr. Stephen Salloway. The presentation covered exciting opportunities as well as challenges towards a treatment breakthrough in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This was followed by a session on the theme of art and culture, including a research-based theatre production entitled ‘Cracked: a new light on dementia.’ The play was the highlight of the day, as it featured honest impersonations of familial and social challenges faced by the dementia patients, with an undertone of poignancy and humor.

The second day of the conference was a busy one, with presentations on several social and ethical topics, including the role and impact of technologies in dementia care, place of genetic testing in dementia diagnosis, and issues surrounding the end-of-life decision making. Audience displayed considerable interest on topics related to the applicability of neuroimaging in dementia diagnosis and treatment. The presentations ended with an electric debate: Should cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers and amyloid positron emission tomography be used in clarifying a diagnosis of AD in clinical practice? The debate saw Dr. Kenneth Rockwood and Dr. Stephan Salloway, two of the leading experts in aging research, on the opposing sides. The evening concluded was a delicious gala dinner and a performance by the band, ‘The Fundamentals.’ The third and final day focused on the Canadian initiatives related to neurodegeneration in aging, workshop sessions and students’ research presentations.

The oral and poster presentations were of high quality and stimulated considerable interest and discussion among the attendees. My own presentation was well-received by the audience and focused on the association of apolipoprotein E ε4 allele, a major genetic risk factor of AD, with MRI-based hippocampal volumes across different dementia subtypes.1 Although CCD was my first out-of-city conference, the overall experience was spectacular and provided an invaluable opportunity to learn, gain experience, and network. The city of Ottawa itself is beautiful and some say that you may experience the best of Canada at one place due to its rich historical, cultural, and political importance. The hustle and bustle at daytime and the brightly lit downtown core at night are the two things hard to miss in this city. This remarkable mix of geographic prominence and exciting list of presentations may make for a perfect learning recipe.

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Oral Abstract Presentations at the 8th Canadian Conference on Dementia (CCD), Ottawa, October 2015. Canadian Geriatrics Journal. 2015;18(4):246-249.