Oral Health and Lou Gehrig’s Disease ALS

September 6, 2011
Hosted by Dr. Gordon Atherley

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Episode Description

Felicia Valo is a member of the Board of Directors of the ALS Society of Canada, and she chairs its Advocacy Committee. Her late husband, Sidney Valo, battled ALS for 3 1/2 years before succumbing to the disease in December 2008. Denise Burdon is a Public Health Dental Hygienist and a member of York Region ALS Outreach Program. She holds the Diploma in Dental Hygiene from Algonquin College and a Degree in Dental Hygiene, University of British Columbia. They discuss the family caregiver experience of ALS, and the work of the dental hygienist providing oral healthcare to people with ALS. They explain the services needed by people with ALS and their family caregivers. They say how dental hygiene services should be organized so that they progressively meet the needs of people at the various stages of ALS. They pass a message to family caregivers, healthcare professionals and the healthcare system about the importance of helping family caregivers caring for a family member with ALS.

Family Caregivers Unite!

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Family caregivers are the people who provide care to partners, parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors and even co-workers. They are the people who provide care when everyone else has gone home. They are the people who organize the functioning of the home for the person with special needs, and for the family as a whole. They are the coordinators of care, the managers of appointments, the preventers of loneliness, and the makers of decisions even to the point of Power of Attorney. And they are so often people who themselves are burdened with their own health challenges and who may be in only marginally better health than the persons to whom they are providing family caregiving.

Dr. Gordon Atherley

Dr Gordon Atherley holds the British equivalent of the Canadian PhD and MD degrees, and LLD, Honoris Causa, from Canada’s Simon Fraser University. His awards include Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, UK. His medical specialties are occupational medicine and public health.
As first President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the Canadian equivalent of the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, he led the creation of Canada’s electronic information service in occupational health and safety, now used in more than 40 countries.
In academia, he held senior, tenured, full-time positions, including departmental chair, in university faculties of physics, engineering, and medicine. He is the author of a textbook and numerous articles and publications.

Since retiring from medical practice, he’s built up Greyhead Associates, which critically researches the safety, effectiveness and fairness of health services for persons with special needs.
Through Virtual Care International, a company of which he’s President, he’s involved in providing sensible technology to family caregivers to help them with their responsibilities, workloads, and concerns.
Now an activist, he urges family caregivers to unite because, more and more, it’s not just their families who depend on them, it’s also the healthcare system as a whole, as it struggles to meet more and more needs of more and more people.

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