For Ron Singer, losing his memory meant losing his livelihood. “That was the end of my acting career,” says Singer, 79, of his age-related moderate cognitive impairment. “I said to my wife, ‘I simply can’t memorize my lines. It’s impossible and I’m terrified.’ ”
That fear has since been replaced by renewed optimism, thanks to a CAMH study that pairs brain stimulation with memory and problem-solving exercises. As the largest ever Canadian clinical trial on dementia prevention, PACt-MD draws on the expertise of CAMH’s geriatrics team, Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention, and Brain Health Imaging Centre. CAMH is leading the study—which is funded by Brain Canada and the Chagnon family— with four other major Toronto academic hospitals participating.
“There have been times when I was frightened that I would not be able to remember certain things I had to remember,” Singer says. “This program has made me feel less frightened in that way, more confident. I’m excited about the present and hopeful about the future.”
PACt-MD is just one of the many ways CAMH, home to Canada’s largest geriatric psychiatry program, is improving mental health care for Canada’s aging population. CAMH is leading the multi-site, NIMH-funded OPTIMUM trial in hopes of identifying the best treatments for older adults with treatment-resistant depression. The first of its kind, the study will examine 1,500 patients from a number of regions across North America.
Older Canadians need real solutions to a wide range of health conditions. Our work is bringing us closer to delivering those solutions that will benefit people in Canada and around the world.
Dr. Tarek Rajji
Philanthropy is also fueling important advancements in geriatric mental health. A generous gift from Shelagh and Peter Godsoe recently established a research chair in late-life mental health. The Chair will explore how we can better treat and support vulnerable seniors today and prevent mental illness from arising in late life.
These initiatives—just a small sample of CAMH’s innovative projects—have Dr. Tarek Rajji excited about the opportunity to make breakthroughs in the next few years.
“We are moving in the right direction to transform care for older adults with brain disorders,” explains Dr. Rajji. “Older Canadians need real solutions to a wide range of health conditions. Our work is bringing us closer to delivering those solutions that will benefit people in Canada and around the world.”
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Mental Health is Health
This study is examining the combination of two novel interventions to protect against Alzheimer's Dementia in patients.