All About Estates

Cancer 1: Dementia 0

Over the last few weeks I had the pleasure of attending two hospital events. One was a fundraiser for the new Women’s (College) Hospital and the other was a recognition lunch by Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation; two world class hospitals that we are lucky to have located in Toronto. Both key note speakers were articulate, well recognized experts in their fields and both spoke about advances in cancer research. It was wonderful and welcome news that we are making advances in research detection and cures as well as ways to improve quality of life and support patients and their families. Cancer can touch anyone, at any age, at any time. In my own small personal circle I am aware of three individuals recently diagnosed and of two other women who recently passed away- all from cancer.

In my work community however dementia is the health threat that faces the majority of families. One typically has to live long enough to develop a dementia although there are those that develop early onset Alzheimers in their 40’s and 50’s.

Unfortunately many of these individuals may have also been previously diagnosed with cancer and are now battling dementia, which has no cure. Complications from dementia can shorten life, with respiratory system disease being the cause of death in almost 46% of individuals. However for many others, the process is slow and difficult.

We don’t choose our health destinies, and while we may have some limited control over our environment and lifestyle we really do not know what is ahead.

As the late great Leonard Cohen wrote:
And who by fire, who by water,
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
Who in your merry merry month of may,
Who by very slow decay,
And who shall I say is calling?
And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,
Who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,
And who by avalanche, who by powder,
Who for his greed, who for his hunger,
And who shall I say is calling?

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About Audrey Miller
About: Audrey Miller, Managing Director of Elder Caring Inc. has over 30 years social work and rehabilitation experience working with older individuals and their families. She advises the financial, insurance, legal and business communities regarding elder care issues. Audrey is a recognized expert in her field. Email:


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