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McGill Reporter
September 13, 2001 - Volume 34 Number 01
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Seniors, who you gonna call?


Golden-agers should definitely add the McGill Info-Service for Seniors to their Rolodex.

Launched two years ago, the weekday helpline offers telephone assistance to Quebec seniors and their families seeking information about resources in their communities. The service's main goal is to help seniors remain autonomous, while steering them towards the resources they require to improve their quality of life.

The helpline provides information on everything from how to find the CLSC closest to you, to data concerning diseases that tend to strike the elderly such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and cancer. The Info-Service also provides contacts for a host of senior-related organizations: self-help or support groups, extracurricular courses, services for the disabled, transportation or accompaniment to appointments and referrals for home care or cleaning services.

Ginette Mayrand, the coordinator and registered nurse who staffs the Info-Service, says the helpline caters to more than just golden-agers: "Oftentimes, adult children who are living away from home call seeking resources to help them cope with their parent's loss of autonomy or to find information regarding long-term care."

Operated by the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging, the helpline is a free and bilingual service that's available Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 4 pm To contact the McGill Info-Service for Seniors, call 888-4055. From elsewhere in Quebec, call toll-free at 1-888-861-1111. Queries can also be addressed via e-mail to ginette.mayrand@mcgill.ca

Assessing Grandma's safety

Caregivers are now better equipped to evaluate the potential dangers lurking at home for charges suffering from dementia, thanks to a new Safety Assessment Scale (SAS) developed by McGill's Dr. Louise Poulin de Courval.

A family doctor at the Côte-des-Neiges CLSC and a professor of family medicine at McGill, Poulin de Courval spent three years developing the assessment scale, in collaboration with researchers in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.

"Health professionals have long wished for an objective way of evaluating the dangers incurred by people with memory and cognitive deficits living alone at home," says Poulin de Courval. "When, for example, [caregivers] are asked, 'Is this person alone at home,' by ticking their choice of 'Always,' 'Most of the time,' 'Occasionally,' or 'Never,' they necessarily assess the risk incurred."

The SAS was tested and validated among 175 patients in English and in French, in both urban and rural settings.

"Thanks to the SAS," says McGill neurologist Serge Gauthier, an expert in Alzheimer's disease and a member of Poulin de Courval's research team, "physicians, nurses, family helpers, social workers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists can now evaluate in a few minutes the risks of accidents in any particular home."

Currently in Canada, eight percent of citizens aged 65 and more suffer from Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Their progressive loss of memory increases their likelihood of having an accident at home.

The Safety Assessment Scale is available online at: www.clsccote-des-neiges.qc.ca/sas

Terry's enduring legacy

Photo The annual Terry Fox Run raises money for cancer research

When third-year economics student Jeanne Lafortune takes part in the Terry Fox Run on Mount Royal this Sunday, she will be part of an impressive McGill contingent at the event.

Of the nearly 2,000 people expected to walk, run, roll or pedal at this weekend's fundraiser, organizers predict 500 will come from McGill. Most will be students, partly thanks to the promotion efforts of the Student Society of McGill University.

For Lafortune, signing up means more than the $105 in pledges she's collected. "This kind of charity run is essential in raising public awareness of different diseases and the importance of research," she says.

All money raised by the Terry Fox Foundation is distributed through the National Cancer Institute of Canada and most of it is earmarked for cancer-related research. McGill receives a significant amount of funding from the Terry Fox Foundation. Projects include an investigation into methods for preventing the spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another, led by surgery professor Pnina Brodt; biochemistry professor Philippe Gros's research on why some cancers become resistant to drug treatments, and the Montreal Neurological Institute's Dr. Christian Simard's attempt to identify the genes that are disrupted during cancer development.

Montreal's Terry Fox Run is September 16, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm, and debuts at Beaver Lake, on Mont-Royal. For more information, call the Terry Fox Foundation at 514-499-9747 or consult www.terryfoxrun.org

A healthy exchange of opinions

Photo Healthcare is a hot topic

Anyone who has visited a crowded E.R. in recent months or who knows of someone waiting for surgery, is likely to have a thing or two to say about the state of health care.

Tonight, two men who have been thinking hard about health care in recent months -- and whose thoughts on the subject have been influencing government policy -- will share their views.

To mark the 30th anniversary of Canada's publicly-funded health care system, the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC) has organized "Health Care Reform in Quebec and Ontario: A Town Hall Discussion."

The evening will feature Michel Clair, chair of the Clair Commission which was appointed by the Quebec government to review the province's health care situation (report available at www.cesss.gouv.qc.ca). Also taking part will be Duncan Sinclair, chair of the Ontario Health Services Restructuring Commission (report available at

The timely discussion precedes a health care conference to be held at McGill next winter, spearheaded by political science professor Antonia Maioni, the MISC's new director and an expert on health policy.

"Health Care Reform in Quebec and Ontario: A Town Hall Discussion" takes place September 13, between 6 and 7:30 pm in room 232 of the Leacock Building, (855 Sherbrooke W.). Admission is free. For more information, please contact the MISC's Lynne Darroch at 514-398-2658 or lynne.darroch@mcgill.ca.

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