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Who are you planting #SeedsofHope for?

Who are you planting #SeedsofHope for?

Who are you planting #SeedsofHope for?

This is your last chance to get your Forget Me Not seeds and join our hopeful community for a world with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia! Meet some of the others who are planting seeds and find out why they doing so:

LouiseI’m participating in #SeedsofHope campaign in memory of my Nanny. It’s a great new way to spread awareness of Alzheimer’s. I feel that this campaign was a thoughtful and respectful way to honour those who have been affected with the horrible disease and to raise awareness in hopes of prevention and a cure.

Louise Gardiner


I’m participating in #SeedsofHope   to honour and remember my wonderful mother. My mom suffered with Alzheimer’s for a long and painful seven years.  She was dearly loved and is extremely missed and by planting the seeds we remember her as flowers and the color purple were her favorite things. Looking at the beautiful flowers reminds us of how beautiful our mother was.

Lydna McAdams

I don’t have anyone in my family with Alzheimer’s, but I’m participating in #SeedsofHope for a man who I worked for who developed it at around 55. I watched the slow deterioration of a man who had a lot of life in him and his struggle to try and maintain some kind on dignity.  Let’s find a cure for this disease.

Donna Perrette

Seeds of Hope – planting party at Meridian Credit Union

Seeds of Hope – planting party at Meridian Credit Union

On Thursday April 23, the Alzheimer Society of Ontario and Meridian Credit Union staff showed up to work extra early. The Meridian Credit Union at 26 St. Clair Ave East in Toronto hosted a planting party to kick-off the #SeedsofHope campaign.  It was a special morning for both organizations who jointly planted Forget Me Not seeds in honour of all the people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias across Ontario.

The Alzheimer Society #SeedsofHope campaign is helping to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and rally support for increased funding for long-term care and a future cure.  Here is a sneak-peak look at the early-morning planting party…

Seeds of Hope
Seeds of Hope
(L-R) Jem Bansil, Galina Bondarenko, Tyler Wood, Shirley Breen, Chris Dennis, Olivia Switzer, Jason Davenport, Aggie Compagni, Sharon Lendor Belfon
Staff meticulously planting Forget Me Not seeds into their starter pots.
Topping off the starter pots with soil so all the seeds are covered.
Alzheimer Society of Ontario CEO, Chris Dennis and staff from the St. Clair Meridian Credit Union displaying their planted Forget Me Not seeds.


Join the #SeedsofHope campaign and order your free Forget Me Not seeds at

You too can join the #SeedsofHope community!


Thank you to Meridian Credit Union for supporting the #SeedsofHope campaign which is helping to grow the community of hope across Ontario for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Run like the wind for Alzheimer’s

Run like the wind for Alzheimer’s

“Thank you, Son,” is what I should have said. “What a great reason for some quality father/son time,” would have been better. Instead, I cried, “You did what?!”

That was Christmas morning 2014. My eldest son had signed us both up for the Ottawa Marathon. I was scheduled to run 26 miles, or 42 km, in less than 5 months.

I’m in my 50’s, I haven’t run regularly for over 20 years and I’m about 20 pounds heavier since my last marathon in 1995. I’d better take this seriously. Of course, training with my son motivates me; staying healthy to take on whatever other surprises he will send my way as he makes his way through life does as well; and using this day to contribute to dementia research is the crowning piece.

No cure or treatment exists. There are no ways to prevent the disease. Yet, I have learned I can do something about dementia:

  • I initially set a fundraising goal of $5,000 to support dementia research, which I will match. As I’m writing this, my goal has been met… and surpassed! Thank you very much for your support. Now, let’s see how much higher we can go! 
  • With March being Brain Health Awareness Month, my colleagues have reminded me that physical activity is one of the four lifestyle choices (including social and mental stimulation, and healthy diet) that are good for you. And they’re good for your brain too, encouraging the development of new cells and new connections within the brain.
  • And according to the Ontario Brain Institute, being physically active is associated with a 38% reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

As I pursue these goals of staying healthy and raising money for dementia research, I have added to my training schedule a long-run every Saturday. Even mother-nature is urging me forward: this harsh winter of ours has offered balmy single-digit temperatures for most of those Saturdays with double digit lows for the balance of the week. I’ve actually started to enjoy running again, especially when I get in the zone, and realize I’ve just run another 10 k without thinking about running at all.

Not such a bad Christmas gift after all, right?

I would go to the ends of the earth for my family, so 42 kilometres seems quite reasonable. On that Christmas morning, I had no idea that his gift could mean so much for so many people.

imageWriter.aspxChris Dennis is the interim CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. Though he has many years of experience in the health-care sector, these past few months have offered him a unique window into this disease and he is committed to raising as much money for Alzheimer’s care and research as possible.

Photos from the Finding Your Way™ expansion

Photos from the Finding Your Way™ expansion

On February 19, Alzheimer Society of Ontario staff, the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat, community partners and the media celebrated the expansion of Finding Your Way™ , a program designed to prevent people with dementia from going missing and ensuring caregivers have a plan in place if they do, into three new languages. With the addition of Arabic, Tagalog, Tamil and Urdu, Finding Your Way is now available in 12 languages, allowing to reach more seniors than ever with this important message.

Here are some photos from our media launch. Thanks to everyone who attended!

Chris Dennis, Interim CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, and Mario Sergio, Minister Responsible for Seniors
North Toronto Community Centre
Chris Dennis and Mario Sergio with David Harvey, Chief Public Policy and Programs Initiatives Officer
20150219_095235 Chris Dennis speaks with David Saunders from Toronto Police Services


Revera has huge success with Celebrating Memories campaign

Revera has huge success with Celebrating Memories campaign


Revera sites across Canada have been holding fundraising campaigns for the past three years in honour of World Alzheimer’s month in September. Events including everything from bake sales to clothing drives to walks, runs and bike rides. Close to $170,000 was raised this past September, the most yet!

“We are grateful for organizations like Revera who show leadership and engage employees and customers to rally support and ultimately raise funds that provide a brighter future for people affected by dementia” Says Alzheimer Society of Canada CEO, Mimi Lowi-Young.


La campagne de financement de Revera remporte un immense succès!


Depuis maintenant trois ans, les centres de services et de soins Revera de tout le Canada tiennent des campagnes de financement dans le cadre du Mois mondial Alzheimer qui a lieu en septembre. De nombreuses activités sont organisées à cette fin : ventes de pâtisseries, collectes de vêtements, marches, courses et randonnées à vélo. Près de 170 000$ ont été recueillis en septembre dernier, le meilleur résultat à ce jour.

« Nous sommes heureux de constater que des organisations comme Revera prennent l’initiative pour mobiliser le soutien de leurs employés et de leurs clients et pour recueillir des fonds afin d’offrir un avenir meilleur aux personnes atteintes de l’Alzheimer ou d’une maladie apparentée », déclare Mme Mimi Lowi-Young, chef de la direction de la Société Alzheimer du Canada.

Cracked: New Light on Dementia combines research, dementia and the arts

Cracked: New Light on Dementia combines research, dementia and the arts

In the spring and fall of 2013, I worked with a team of artists and researchers on the play Cracked: New Light on Dementia. I was brought onto the project because of my theatre background and because of my personal and professional experience working with people who have dementia.

The play is intended to inspire alternative ways of seeing people living with dementia, instill the importance of maintaining strong relationships with them, and reinforce the imperative for good ethical care. The play will enhance person-centred care with the help of funding from the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP). The ASRP is funding performances in long term care settings to research how health care workers shift their understanding of dementia after seeing the play.

With the support of an Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creator’s Reserve grant (administered through Theatre Gargantua), I spent a month with the team – two weeks in the spring and then two weeks in the fall – acting as Dramaturge and Assistant Director. This means that I worked closely with the director/playwright, providing insight and support on the development of the script and the performance. I also attended the rehearsals with the performers and researchers, and gave feedback and suggestions as needed.

When I arrived at my first rehearsal, the team had already been working on the piece intermittently for about a year, discussing themes, improvising scenes, and exploring characters, storylines, music and movement, and drawing on the research and professional experience of the research team.

It is difficult to fully express how beautiful it was to watch the actors work, and to see how bravely, spontaneously and creatively they approached the material. In a word, it was breathtaking.

A highlight for me was that, before I came onboard, members of the team had held focus groups and informal conversations with people living with dementia, and these provided valuable inspiration for the creation of the piece. Then while I was there, we had the opportunity to visit a long term care facility, and were able to spend time with some of the residents and there, in both one-on-one and group settings.

The experiences, thoughts, words and insights that were so openly and generously shared with us were brought up and discussed time and time again during our rehearsals. These individuals had made a tremendous impact on all of us, and you can see some of these experiences and insights in the final piece. There is incredible truth in this play.

It was magical to spend so much time with a group of people determined to change negative dementia discourses through the theatre. Art can be a powerful tool for creating social change, as it tends to reach us on a deep and personal level, stirring something in us that perhaps cannot be reached through other means. The magnitude of our responses can sometimes even catch us off guard, and many times in the rehearsal process I found myself brought to tears.

Cracked is a truthful and nuanced story of dementia, where joy and grief, strength and vulnerability, and struggle and peace all come together in an intricate dance. It demonstrates the power of relationships, and, perhaps most importantly, it shows us that who we are – the very core of ourselves – remains intact throughout the dementia journey.

Photo credit: Karl Ang

Aynsley Moorhouse, MFA, MSW, RSW

Alzheimer Society of Toronto    





The Cracked Ensemble

Director: Julia Gray

Performers: Susan Applewhaite, Lori Nancy Kalamanski, Sarah Machin Gale, Claire Frances Muir, Jason Chesworth, Tim Machin, David Talbot

Research Team: Drs. Sherry Dupuis, Pia Kontos, Gail Mitchell, Christine Jonas-Simpson

Co-Creators: Mark Prince, Mary Ellen MacLean

Set and Costume Design: Lindsay Anne Black

Music Director: Tim Machin

Stage Manager: Elizabeth McDermott

Assistant Director/Dramaturge: Aynsley Moorhouse

Scenic Artist: Ksenia Ivanova

Wardrobe Assistant: Alyksandra Ackerman


For performance dates and a full list of acknowledgements and sponsors, please visit:

Dine and Dance 2014

Dine and Dance 2014

“Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.”


The Event

The annual Dine and Dance is a fun and elegant event hosted by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. Held at the St. Lawrence Hall, this social event provides a space for people in the early stages of dementia and their family caregivers to dance and enjoy an afternoon together.

Amanda Schmukler, Senior Social Worker at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto is the organizer of the Dine and Dance. “This is a wonderful event for families to enjoy an afternoon of live music, dancing and lunch in a safe space” says Schmukler.

Watch a clip from the 2013 Dine and Dance here!


The Impact

“This event sums up, in a nutshell, everything we do at the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto,” says Cathy Barrick, CEO, Alzheimer Society of Toronto.

On Cathy’s third day at the Society, she attended her first Dine and Dance event.  “The event is for those who have dementia.  It is a testament to our commitment that they are not forgotten, and to be sure there are events that help them remain connected, active and engaged – all key aspects to slowing the progression of dementia.”

Dance and Dance Photo
Cathy Barrick dancing at the 2013 Dine and Dance

Through various programs and services, such as the Music and Memory: iPod Project, we have been able to see the impact music has on a person living with dementia. Cathy recalls her interactions with the attendees at the event as eye opening. “[There] was the sometimes brief glimpse of the person inside – brought to life by the music and interactions with others.  The person is in there – and our commitment to supporting research will help find them.” This is why events and services like this matter so much to the community. They give people the freedom to feel and live things they may not experience on a daily basis.

What is the best part of the Dine and Dance?

“The smiles. Hands down”, says Kim Waymann, Stewardship and Engagement Coordinator at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto.  Attending her first Dine and Dance event in 2013, Kim did not realize the impact it would have on her. “It was the best day of my life” she gushes, when describing how much she was looking forward to the upcoming event on May 7th, 2014. “I’m always looking for a good dance partner, so I can’t wait!”

Kim dancing at the 2013 Dine and Dance
Kim Waymann and her dance partner at the 2013 Dine and Dance


Find out more about the Dine and Dance and Music and Memory: iPod Project


Redstone Lake Hockey Tournament raises $13,000

Redstone Lake Hockey Tournament raises $13,000

On January 24, Peter de Maio held the second annual Redstone Lake Pond Hockey Classic. The tournament had been turned into a fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society, through our Memory Makers website, after Peter’s Father, Dominic de Maio, passed away from Alzheimer’s disease the previous year.

The participants raised over $13,000 to help fund programs and services provided by the Alzheimer Society and research for a cure. Outstanding work everyone! Your generosity has made a difference.

Here are some photos from the event.

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2014 01 25 030SONY DSCstonephoto

Peter with his father Dom
Peter with his father Dom
Behind the scenes at the Finding Your Way phase 2 launch

Behind the scenes at the Finding Your Way phase 2 launch

On January 28, 2014, the Alzheimer Society of Ontario launched phase 2 of Finding Your Way, an innovative public safety initiative to help people with dementia stay safe while staying active.  Portuguese, Italian and Spanish were added to the program, which already consists of French, English, Punjabi, Traditional and Simplified Chinese. These were the photos I took in the midst of the media scrum.

Laura Albanese, MPP, Hon. Mario Sergio, Minister Responsible for Seniors, Gale Carey, CEO Alzheimer Society of Ontario
Elizabeth Esteves, Manager Policy Initiatives Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat, Jamie Stirling Prov. Search and Rescue Coordinator, Ontario Provincial Police
MPP Laura Albanese and CEO Gale Carey
Danielle Farrell, Wandering Person Registry Assistant, Alzheimer Society (AS) of Peel, Peggy Winch, Volunteer Coordinator, AS Windsor
Andrew Fletcher, Deputy Chief, Halton Regional Police Services, CEO Gale Carey
Promotional posters in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian
Ruby Lopez, Caregiver, Cathy Barrick, CEO AS Toronto
Loretta Tanner, Public Education Coordinator, AS Durham
CEO Gale Carey speaking
A well-attended morning
MPP Laura Albanese
Hon. Mario Sergio
Hon. Mario Sergio
Andrew Fletcher, Deputy Chief, Halton Regional Police Service representing Ontario Association of Police Chief
Rina, Caregiver, Hon. Mario Sergio, Sarah, Caregiver
CEO Gale Carey, Juan, Caregiver, Rina, Caregiver, Hon. Mario Sergio, Sarah, Caregiver
CEO Gale Carey, Emcee Cristina Da Costa, Hon. Mario Sergio
Angela Johnston, Social Worker, AS York, Jonathon Macri, Public Education Coordinator, AS York
Gale addresses the media
A wonderful mural at St. Clair West Services for Seniors building
CEO Gale Carey, Jamie Sterling, OPP, Andrew Fletcher, Deputy Chief, Halton Regional Police Services, Chantal Mudahogora, Finding Your Way Coordinator, AS Brant, Haldimand-Norfolk, and Hamilton-Halton

On-ice showdown for Alzheimer’s disease

On-ice showdown for Alzheimer’s disease

On January 24, I will be hosting the fifth annual Red Stone Lake Pond Hockey invitational, an outdoor hockey tournament on Piccadilly Bay in Haliburton, Ontario. But this classic Canadian weekend of intense on-ice competition is about more than victory. Through Memory Makers for Alzheimer’s, we’ve turned the tournament into a fundraiser in honour of my father, Don de Maio, who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease last year.

Our house on Piccadilly Bay once belonged to my father, who always loved the outdoors and hiking in the area. Battling on ice in the great outdoors, I feel that the tournament is a great way to honour his memory. And it helps raise money to fund critical Alzheimer research and programs and services in our community.

In addition to a registration fee for the tournament, we provide additional means for participants to show their generosity through other activities and tournaments like crokinole, power, fooseball and a 50/50 draw.

Having experienced this journey for myself, I know that families affected by this disease need all of the help they can get. So please help us raise even more money this year.  I want to leave a legacy for my father that he can be proud of.

peter-de-maioPeter de Maio

Memory Makers for Alzheimer’s fundraiser