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Category: Giving Back

Racing for memories

Racing for memories

Recently, my family has joined the unfortunate ranks of those who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. My mom started showing early signs of the disease a few years ago, and it has slowly and stubbornly progressed ever since. The toll that Alzheimer’s is taking on my mom is obvious and devastating. Less obvious, but just as significant, is the impact it is having on my dad. As my mom’s primary caregiver, it’s been said that my dad must ride the world’s tallest, fastest and scariest emotional roller coaster each and every day. Sadly, in my observation, this is absolutely true.

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How do you want to leave your financial legacy?

How do you want to leave your financial legacy?

Planning for the future is important for everyone, but it’s especially important if you or someone you care about has dementia. That’s why we’ve partnered with RBC Wealth Management Estate & Trust Services to bring you a series of informative blogs about estate planning.

In this blog, Leanne Kaufman, Head of RBC Estate & Trust Services, asks ‘What kind of financial legacy do you want to leave behind?’

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Matthew Walks to honour the memory of his beloved Oma

Matthew Walks to honour the memory of his beloved Oma

Matthew Vorstermans and his grandmother had a very special bond.

“My Oma lived in Pittsburgh during most of her life and I only saw her about once or twice a year,” Matthew explains. “Despite the distance between us, we maintained a great relationship. We wrote letters to each other and talked on the phone all the time. There was never a time where we’ve held a grudge or anything; we’ve always gotten along.”

Matthew was born with Cerebral Palsy, and sites his Oma as a great role model and support as he grew up. “She didn’t care that I had a disability. She was proud to have a grandson—before me she had only had granddaughters. The fact that I am disabled, she was indifferent to that. She said, ‘I finally have a grandson and I love that.’”

“All my life, Oma had always been right there to give me comfort, reassurance and companionship.”

The signs of dementia started to present themselves slowly. She struggled to recall details about her life, and her own family. That’s when Matthew decided to reach out to the Alzheimer Society, to help him understand the disease that was impacting his grandmother.

It was not long before the disease began to take a toll on his grandmother’s short term memory. Eventually she didn’t remember Matthew at all. That, along with the distance, took a toll on Matthew.

“As the disease progressed, in the last six years of her life, she moved to Nova Scotia. I wasn’t able to see her as frequently. I felt guilty. It was very painful.”

“I wanted to do something about the situation.”

Matthew contemplated how he could turn the feelings of sadness and helplessness into positive action.

“It took me a while to arrive at the conclusion, but I finally decided that as much as I’d like to be with and comfort Oma, I can’t, but I can do that for somebody else.”

Matthew contacted the Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County and began to volunteer, fundraise, and actively seek out opportunities to speak about his experiences. He began participating in the Walk for Alzheimer’s in 2007. Since then, he’s single-handedly fundraised $27, 815.36 for the Alzheimer Society.

Matthew Vorstermans at the Walk in 2015 “I’ve met a lot of people, particularly at the Walk for Alzheimer’s, who tell me that they like what I’m doing. They may have lost their husband or wife only a couple months ago, which is why they’re walking. I think it’s important to realize that, as painful as it is, you don’t have to wait until your own personal experience is over. You can turn that pain into positive action whenever you feel like it. It may even be therapeutic for you. It certainly was for me.”

“It is never too early, or too late to get involved.”

Are you ready to start fundraising for the Walk for Alzheimer’s? Join the Walk for Alzheimer’s today!

What will your legacy be?

What will your legacy be?

Death is a fact of life. Because the transition from life to death is an unknown, humans are full of fear. And fear drives us to avoidance. Even though there has been increasing media attention to end-of-life issues recently, we seem to live in a death-phobic, death-avoidance culture. While our television, movie and video game screens are often filled with images of violent death. And news reports remind us every day of various threats to life.

Can we shift our perceptions to think about our Legacy instead of our deaths? May is Leave a Legacy month in Canada.

May is national LEAVE A LEGACY™ month across Canada. LEAVE A LEGACY™ is a national public awareness program designed to encourage Canadians to leave a gift, primarily through their Will, to a charity of their choice and to raise awareness of the importance of including a charitable gift in the estate-planning process.

The main goal of estate planning is usually to have the greatest amount of one’s estate pass to the owner’s intended beneficiaries. This includes paying the least amount of taxes. A legacy gift can benefit your favourite charity while significantly helping your family save taxes.

We are living in a time when an unprecedented amount of wealth is being transferred from one generation to the next. According to the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, in the next two decades 3.5 million Canadians are expected to die, leaving an estimated $1.5 trillion to their families and community.

Recent data on estate planning

A recent Scotiabank study found that half (50 per cent) of Canadians have a Will and just over half of Canadians (54 per cent) said they have spoken to their family about their intentions for their Will. The study also found that only one third (33 per cent) of Canadians have a Power of Attorney for property, while 59 per cent do not have one and 8 per cent say they don’t know what it is.

The disturbing part is that 50 per cent of Canadians currently don’t have a Will. According to the LEAVE A LEGACY™ program, if this trend continues, about two million Canadians over the next two decade will end life without a Will to protect their assets and their families. Without a Will, people lose the ability to control distribution of their estate to their chosen beneficiaries!

A common myth is people think you have to be wealthy to make a legacy gift—this is simply not true. Anyone can arrange to leave a charitable gift from their estate, regardless of its size.

People give for many different reasons; to ensure their memory lives on, to ensure that their favorite charity is able to continue its important work, to minimize the tax liability that comes with the transfer of one’s estate to surviving family members.

You have the ability to help the lives of people with dementia and create a lasting legacy. Gifts left to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario gives us the security of future funds. This May, get into action, do your Will, leave a legacy and create a brighter future for communities across Canada. We are here to help, request our free Super Hero Estate Planner and Guide. Not all Super Heroes wear capes. At the Alzheimer Society our Super Heroes leave a gift in their Wills to fight our #1 foe – dementia. Take a stand. Get the job done. Protect and help others and gain peace of mind. To learn more, and to request a free estate planner and guide, go to alzsuperhero.ca

 

Written by:

Colleen Bradley Chief Development Officer, Planned Giving Alzheimer Society of Ontario
Colleen Bradley
Chief Development Officer, Planned Giving Alzheimer Society of Ontario

 

You can be that one to make a difference

You can be that one to make a difference

Did you know that over 210,000 people in Ontario are living with dementia? That over 564,000 Canadians are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia today? We all know, or know of, someone affected by this disease. They are our neighbours, our friends, our grandparents and our uncles. They are someone in our life, and they are more than just a number.

You can be that one to make a difference in the lives of those affected by dementia. By donating today, you can help fund research to find treatments, and even a cure, for this disease. You can help fund programs that support people with dementia and their caregivers, and help improve quality of life.

For people like Amir, your support means the world.

Here is his story:

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CarePartners has taken action for dementia!

CarePartners has taken action for dementia!

With over 200,000 people in Ontario living with dementia today, we need an Ontario dementia strategy to make sure that our communities receive the support they need. The Alzheimer Society of Ontario has led the movement to have a fully-funded dementia strategy included in the Ontario government’s 2017 budget, and we are now awaiting the upcoming announcement of the budget.

In support of our initiative, CarePartners has generously donated not only financially, but their time as well, to help build awareness and promote the importance of an Ontario Dementia Strategy. With their exceptional support, we have been able to increase awareness amongst policy makers and influencers and the need for a strategy to be included in this year’s budget.

The partnership between CarePartners and the Alzheimer Society of Ontario began with the shared value of great care for people living with dementia. CarePartners explains,

“CarePartners is committed to providing quality care for patients with a dementia diagnosis living in the community and to providing support for their families. Our partnership with the ASO (Alzheimer Society of Ontario) provides our health professionals with education and access to resources; both of these contribute greatly to ensuring that the care our staff provides is always skilled, compassionate and built on proven best practices.”
-Brittany Robins, CarePartners

To have an Ontario Dementia Strategy will be integral to help support partnerships like this, which help to make sure that people with dementia receive the best care possible.

Thanks to supporters like CarePartners, we have been able to raise awareness about the need for a dementia strategy to many members of parliament, but we need to make sure that a fully-funded strategy is incorporated in the government’s budget. Be sure to write to your MPP today and tell them that we need a fully-funded dementia strategy!

For more information about CarePartners and the services they offer, visit their website at www.carepartners.ca

At 21, Alzheimer’s is the last thing on your mind – until your mom gets it

At 21, Alzheimer’s is the last thing on your mind – until your mom gets it

It’s common to think that dementia affects only particular demographics—like seniors—but Kathryn Fudurich’s story reminds us of how this disease can have a huge impact on anyone’s life.

When Kathryn was 21 and in her last year of university, her mom, Patricia, was diagnosed with young onset dementia. The signs had been there for a while. Patricia had become anxious about everyday tasks like driving, began buying household items in multiples and struggled professionally. At age 55, she could no longer keep her job or live alone. So Kathryn and other family members stepped in.

Kathryn moved back home after graduation and put her life on hold to be a part of her mother’s care. She felt very much alone in this situation at such a young age, so she reached out to the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. Later she discovered some of her own friends were also going through this experience. What Kathryn really needed was to talk to someone who had been there, who knew what it means to live with an irreversible diagnosis.

Kathryn continues to share the responsibility of care with her dad and siblings. But it doesn’t get easier. Caring for someone with dementia is incredibly time-consuming and emotional, because it’s a “living disease,” not something you just “get over.” Kathryn describes feeling the loss of her mom every day, and struggles with the need to be there—or close by—even eight years later.

Through mutual friends, Kathryn met Carolyn Poirier, whose mother also has Alzheimer’s. She joined Carolyn and her friends in founding Memory Ball as a way of raising funds for people living with dementia. “Stepping out of the caregiving role, even briefly, is really important for caregivers,” says Kathryn.

But what’s even more important? When friends step into your world. If you know someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, spend an afternoon or evening with them. Bring them a hot meal, and see first-hand what their life is like.

There are so many ways to support families like Kathryn’s, so many ways to get involved with the people in your community affected by this disease. You can also donate to the Alzheimer Society, so that we can continue to offer resources and fund research. Because it’s not just their disease. It’s ours too. #InItforAlz

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À 21 ANS, LA MALADIE D’ALZHEIMER EST LE DERNIER DE VOS SOUCIS, JUSQU’À CE QUE VOTRE MÈRE EN SOIT ATTEINTE

kathryn fudurich
On pense souvent que la maladie d’Alzheimer affecte seulement une certaine tranche de la population, à savoir les personnes âgées. Mais l’histoire de Kathryn Fudurich nous rappelle que cette maladie peut avoir de graves répercussions sur la vie de tous.

À l’âge de 21 ans, alors que Kathryn terminait sa dernière année à l’université, la maladie d’Alzheimer à début précoce a été diagnostiquée à sa mère, Patricia. Certains signes s’étaient déjà manifestés depuis quelque temps. Les tâches de la vie quotidienne, comme la conduite automobile, rendaient Patricia très nerveuse. Elle achetait les mêmes produits ménagers à répétition et éprouvait des difficultés dans sa vie professionnelle. À l’âge de 55 ans, elle n’a plus été en mesure de travailler ou de vivre seule. Kathryn et les autres membres de sa famille sont donc intervenus.

Après avoir obtenu son diplôme, Kathryn est rentrée au bercail et a mis sa vie de côté pour prendre soin de sa mère. Elle se sentait très seule dans cette situation à un si jeune âge, et elle a donc communiqué avec la Société Alzheimer de Toronto. Un peu plus tard, elle a découvert que certaines de ses propres amies vivaient la même situation. Ce dont Kathryn avait vraiment besoin, c’était de parler à quelqu’un qui avait vécu la même expérience et qui savait ce que cela voulait dire de vivre avec une maladie irréversible.

Kathryn continue aujourd’hui de partager la responsabilité des soins de sa mère avec son père et ses frères et sœurs. Mais la situation n’est pas facile. Prendre soin d’une personne atteinte d’une maladie cognitive demande beaucoup de temps et d’énergie psychique parce qu’il s’agit d’une maladie évolutive qu’on ne surmonte pas. Kathryn ressent tous les jours ce sentiment de vide devant la maladie de sa mère et essaie d’être là pour elle à ses côtés, ou le plus près possible, même huit ans plus tard.

Par l’entremise d’amis communs, Kathryn a rencontré Carolyn Poirier, dont la mère est également atteinte de l’Alzheimer. En compagnie de Carolyn et de ses amis, elle a participé à la fondation de « Memory Ball » afin de recueillir des fonds pour les personnes atteintes d’une maladie cognitive. « Le fait de sortir de son rôle d’aidant, même brièvement, est vraiment important », déclare Kathryn.

Mais ce qu’il y a de plus important encore, c’est lorsque des amis vous rendent visite. Si vous connaissez une personne atteinte de la maladie d’Alzheimer ou d’une autre maladie cognitive, allez passer un après-midi ou une soirée avec elle. Apportez-lui un repas chaud, et constatez sur place ce à quoi sa vie ressemble.

Il existe de nombreux moyens de soutenir les familles comme celle de Kathryn, et de prendre une part active à la vie des personnes touchées. Vous pouvez également faire un don à la Société Alzheimer pour lui permettre de continuer à offrir des services de soutien et du financement pour la recherche. Parce que ces maladies ne concernent pas seulement les personnes atteintes, elles nous concernent tous. #TousContreAlz.

Puzzles for Good supports the Alzheimer Society

Puzzles for Good supports the Alzheimer Society

By: Kirsten Wreggitt, Chief Puzzle Constructor at Puzzles for Good

My Grandma made me pancakes in the shape of anything I could imagine – giraffes, Mickey Mouse, unicorns, and of course full moons. Those childhood breakfasts are cherished memories of family gathered together with Grandma at the center in her frilly apron. I remember that she laughed easily, always had a lap for you to sit in, and that she loved frogs. Of course, Kermit the Frog was her favourite, but I remember he was among many friends in the room I slept in at her house. That bedroom was filled with frog figurines on shelves covering each wall. There was no doubt that she was a fun loving person; a pretty perfect Grandma and a wonderful wife and mother too.

That is how I want to remember her, spatula in hand laughing with us at breakfast. Unfortunately, we also had to witness a slow and painful decline until we lost her to Alzheimer’s. At first she simply misplaced things or forgot a meeting, but over time it progressed to forgetting people, forgetting how to care for herself, and finally forgetting who she was. Such a terrible loss.

Many of us joke about forgetfulness and old age. I wish Alzheimer’s stopped with a little forgetfulness. The final stages of Alzheimer’s are no joke and it would be a wonderful thing if no other families had to witness or experience this loss of a loved one.

I am the owner of Puzzles for Good. It’s a social enterprise that creates word puzzles and shares the proceeds with organizations doing great work in the world.

I hold the memory of my Grandma dear to my heart and so I picked the Alzheimer Society of Canada as the recipient for this month’s puzzle pack.

Puzzles are great for brain health and are also so much fun! Get your Memory Puzzle Pack here.

Their memories fade, but love remains

Their memories fade, but love remains

Donate today to help find a cure.

When the doctor first told my Mom, “You have Alzheimer’s disease,” I was numb. There I was, only 30 years old, with a newborn son and a mother whose memory was starting to fade.  I tried to Google as much as I could about the disease, but panic came the second I saw the words: There is no cure.

As hard as this is to talk about, I agreed to share my story with you because I want to see a world without Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Caron & Marlene

Please make a donation today. Your holiday gift to Alzheimer Society of Ontario will help fund life-saving research focused on prevention, better treatments and, ultimately, a cure. Your contribution will also help women and men across the province that face this devastating disease by providing support programs and services.

This time of year is especially hard. I have such fond memories of our family’s special Christmas traditions but that has all changed since Alzheimer’s took hold of Mom 15 years ago.

My Mom is now in the late stages of the disease. She has forgotten how to walk and is confined to a wheelchair. She can’t remember how to chew so even eating is difficult.

Alzheimer’s disease impacts so many people. And chances are you or someone you know will be affected.

I hope you will join me in donating now to help bring hope and improve the lives of people like my mother.

Thank you,

Caron Leid
Caregiver to my mom, Marlene, since 2000

Make a Will Month – What gifts can I give?

Make a Will Month – What gifts can I give?

November is Make a Will month in Canada – and this is my sixth and final blog post here for the Alzheimer Society. I would like to thank them so much for this incredible opportunity.  The work being done by the Alzheimer Society is incredible and so needed. Hopefully one day there will be a cure for this horrible disease. Now on to my post.

The law in Ontario is pretty wide open with regards to giving gifts of property in a Will.  You have almost complete discretion.  The vast majority of my married clients leave all of their property to their spouse with a gift over to their children with a further gift over to their grandchildren.  They often will pick out specific gifts to give to specific people.  This is not a required way to do things, it is just the most common.

In addition, my clients will often choose to give charitable gifts to registered charitable organizations like the Alzheimer Society, in order to take advantage of very favourable tax breaks the Canadian government provides.

When you speak to a lawyer or the planned giving departments of charitable organizations like the Alzheimer Society they can talk you through the various ways and the many benefits of including charitable giving in your Will.

When you have decided who is going to get what property, there are certain things you should keep in mind.

First, you are required to provide for your dependents. If you do not, the dependant has the right to bring a court action to essentially rewrite the Will. The court will look at the overall regime set up in the estate, and will only uphold a Will if it is of the opinion that it has sufficiently provided for the dependents.

Second, if a spouse is not satisfied with a Will, he or she can decide to ask for an equalization of property instead of taking under your Will.  This will likely thwart any plan to leave a spouse out of your inheritance.  It is therefore important to ensure that your spouse is reasonably provided for in your Will.

Third, there are ways to minimize your taxes, by structuring certain trusts, and appointing on your Life Insurance Policies and Designating Beneficiaries under certain registered plans like RRSPs and RRIFs.

Fourth – if your beneficiary might qualify for Disability Benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program, there are certain trust options that are available, that can allow the beneficiary to continue receiving government assistance after receiving an inheritance.  Often people give gifts to disabled beneficiaries without taking into account the impact it will have on their government benefits.

Certain religions have specific requirements for gifts given in a Will. In most cases, those requirements can be met as long as dependents are looked after and the spouse does not elect equalization. Some religions have specific workarounds that are accepted by the religious authorities. Those items I defer to the religious leaders, but it is important for you to ask the question if that is important to you.

Other than that, there is pretty wide freedom for you to decide who gets what after your death. This freedom only exists if you take the time to make a Will. The alternative is for a government formula to decide who gets your property. It might work out the way you wish. It might not.

You do not need a lawyer to make your Will. There are online forms that you can fill out. That said, a lawyer can help guide you through the process in simple and easy to understand way.  A lawyer can make suggestions as to the most tax effective way to structure things. A lawyer will keep up with changes in the law as they occur to assist in making sure that your documents are up to date. A lawyer will make sure that you have not forgotten important things.

The process is NOT as expensive or time consuming as you may be imagining. The time and money invested in these documents such as your Will and Powers of Attorney is well spent; clients gain clarity and peace of mind.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about making your Will and Powers of Attorney. Finally, I would like to thank Sadie Etemad for her assistance in putting together these blog posts.

 

Written by:

Stephen Offenheim

Stephen Offenheim,
The Law Office of Stephen Offenheim
http://www.planyourwill.ca
(416) 863-1300
steve@planyourwill.ca