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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

‘We have so much to learn from our grandparents’: A teen’s perspective on Alzheimer’s

‘We have so much to learn from our grandparents’: A teen’s perspective on Alzheimer’s

Marilyn Lemay loved the outdoors and would spend every waking moment there. Inherently creative, she crafted, embroidered, quilted and painted everything in sight. If you stand still for more than a moment, her 17-year-old granddaughter Deborah jokes, Marilyn just might paint you.

Some of that changed eight years ago, when Marilyn was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Deborah’s grandfather Ron moved from their beloved Elliot Lake home to be closer to Deborah’s mother and family. Managing Marilyn’s care himself wasn’t an option. He knew he would need to rely on a close family network.

Marilyn Lemay
Marilyn and Ron Lemay

Deborah loves being closer to her grandmother. She still goes to her with questions about nature and for advice about life. While Marilyn’s memory isn’t what it used to be, she still has a wealth of knowledge to share. And the two of them have joined an inter-generational choir started by the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex.

“About 15 to 20 high school students get together with seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease and we sing old, war-time songs,” says Deborah. Marilyn loves this choir. It reminds her of her childhood when her mother and aunts would sing and dance in her home.

Deborah loves hanging out with her grandmother, whether they’re walking, having tea parties, or watching episodes of I Love Lucy. There’s so much hope, wisdom, and joy in her grandmother, and Deborah wishes more young people could see that. The chance to connect across generations, to learn from each other and spend valuable time together, is really important.

When Deborah describes her grandparents, her voice lights up: her grandfather is still so in love with her grandmother, even though they met at 13 (63 years ago!). Ron takes Marilyn out on dates, will dance with her whenever music comes on, and the two of them tease each other still. Marilyn is still Marilyn, in other words, and she still lives with deep joy.

Family support systems are an integral part of living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. And those systems themselves need support with resources, groups, and hope for a cure. Please donate to the Alzheimer Society, so that families like Deborah’s have more time to walk, and sing and laugh. Because it’s not just their disease. It’s ours too. #InItforAlz

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NOUS AVONS TELLEMENT DE CHOSES À APPRENDRE DE NOS GRANDS-PARENTS : PERSPECTIVE D’UNE ADO SUR L’ALZHEIMER

deborah-dravis
Marilyn Lemay adorait la vie en plein air et passait le plus clair de son temps à l’extérieur. D’une nature créative, elle faisait de l’artisanat, de la broderie, des courtepointes et peignait tout ce qu’elle voyait. Si vous restiez juste un moment sans bouger, elle vous prenait comme modèle pour peindre, raconte en riant sa petite-fille Deborah, 17 ans.

Il y a huit ans, la maladie d’Alzheimer a été diagnostiquée à Marilyn et les choses ont changé. Les grands-parents de Deborah ont quitté leur domicile du lac Elliot, qu’ils aimaient tant, pour être plus près de la mère de Deborah et de la famille. Le grand-père ne pouvait prendre soin de Marylin par lui-même et il savait qu’il pouvait compter sur le réseau tissé serré de ses proches.

Deborah adore être à proximité de sa grand-mère. Elle lui pose plein de questions sur la nature et lui demande des conseils de vie. Même si la mémoire de Marilyn n’est plus ce qu’elle était, elle possède toujours de précieuses connaissances à transmettre. Deborah et sa grand-mère font maintenant partie d’une chorale intergénérationnelle mise sur pied par la Société Alzheimer de London et Middlesex.

« Environ 15 à 20 élèves du secondaire se réunissent avec les personnes âgées atteintes de la maladie d’Alzheimer et nous chantons de vieilles chansons du temps de la guerre », poursuit Deborah. Marilyn adore faire partie de ce chœur. Cela lui rappelle son enfance lorsque sa mère et ses tantes chantaient et dansaient à la maison.

Deborah aime beaucoup passer du temps avec sa grand-mère, que ce soit pour faire une promenade, prendre le thé ou regarder des épisodes de « I Love Lucy ». Sa grand-mère est tellement pleine d’espoir, de sagesse et de joie, et Deborah souhaiterait que plus de jeunes puissent profiter de son expérience de vie. La possibilité d’établir des liens entre les générations, d’apprendre les uns des autres et de passer de précieux moments ensemble est vraiment importante.

Lorsque Deborah décrit ses grands-parents, sa voix s’illumine : son grand-père est toujours amoureux de sa grand-mère, même s’ils se sont rencontrés à l’âge de 13 ans (il y a 63 ans de cela!). Il invite Marilyn à sortir, danse avec elle au son de la musique, et les deux adorent toujours se taquiner. En d’autres mots, Marilyn est toujours Marilyn, et elle continue de vivre le cœur rempli de joie.

Le réseau de soutien familial fait partie intégrante de la vie avec la maladie d’Alzheimer ou avec une autre maladie cognitive. Mais il faut appuyer ce réseau avec des ressources, des groupes d’entraide et l’espoir de guérison. Pour aider les familles comme celle de Deborah à disposer de plus de temps pour faire des promenades, chanter et rire, nous vous invitons à faire un don à la Société Alzheimer. Parce que ces maladies ne concernent pas seulement les personnes atteintes, elles nous concernent tous. #TousContreAlz.

Finding Your Way® – Living Safely in the Community

Finding Your Way® – Living Safely in the Community

The Alzheimer Society of Ontario hosted its second annual Finding Your Way®  Provincial Forum on Thursday March 10th. Close to 100 people came together to see how we all can help people with dementia live safely in the community. Many partnering organizations were represented – supportive housing providers, retirement home staff as well as paramedics and other first responders. The Alzheimer Society was happy to see such an interest from our partners.

The Hon. Mario Sergio, Minister Responsible for Seniors and Indira Naidoo-Harris, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care were both in attendance. They brought warm greetings and announced the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat’s ongoing financial support of Finding Your Way!

This forum showcased the great work happening across Ontario to support seniors, additionally the brand new Finding Your Way website was launched at this event. Learn more about this program and how you can support people with dementia to live safely in the community at www.findingyourwayontario.ca.

Below is a glimpse at the wonderful group of attendees who have helped support the Finding Your Way program.

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Alzheimer Society of Ontario receives accreditation!

Alzheimer Society of Ontario receives accreditation!

Hello supporters,

I’m excited to share some great news with you! Late last year, staff at the Alzheimer Society of Ontario voluntarily put our key processes, services and strategies through a rigorous assessment by Accreditation Canada. We were evaluated in all aspects of being both a health-care organization and a non-profit. And we have just heard that we have received a full four-year Accreditation! This is a great accomplishment for our organization and demonstrates to you our commitment to being a quality health charity and continually improving ourselves and the services we provide.

Accreditation Canada is an independent, non-profit organization that strives to improve health care for all Canadians. It works with health-care organizations to help them improve quality, safety, and efficiency so they can offer the best possible care and service. Being accredited means an organization has met the highest standards for quality and continuous improvement. Along with regular check-ins, an accredited organization is re-evaluated every four years.

Moving forward, this will strengthen the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s strong brand among donors, supporters, partner organizations and government, all of whom are key stakeholders in advancing our vision of a world where every Ontarian impacted by this disease receives they help they need to live well with dementia. Learn more about the Alzheimer Society of Ontario.

imageWriter.aspxChris Dennis

Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer Society of Ontario

1 million Dementia Friends wanted. Are you in?

1 million Dementia Friends wanted. Are you in?

Living with dementia comes with good days and bad but the most challenging part is the stigma behind it. Canadians with dementia often tell us they feel labelled, dismissed and cut off from friends – even their families.

By reducing stigma and misinformation, we can help them stay connected to their communities and live as well as possible.

Dementia Friends Canada is an Alzheimer Society and Government of Canada initiative to help Canadians better understand what it’s like to live with dementia and how they can help those with the disease remain active and carry on with their daily lives.

Becoming a Dementia Friend is easy and means joining other individuals and workplaces who want to create awareness and positive change.

Help shine a light on dementia. Support people in your community.
Visit www.dementiafriends.ca to get started.

Bulk Barn locations across Canada raise $342,491 in support of programs and services.

Bulk Barn locations across Canada raise $342,491 in support of programs and services.

Bulk Barn celebrated its 10th anniversary as a supporter of Coffee Break this year and through their annual campaign they have raised $342,491, bringing their total contribution to nearly $2 million. Coffee Break co-ordinator Laura Berljawsky and Chief Development Officer, John Hayward visited Bulk Barn where they were presented with a cheque for the funds raised. (photos below).

Bulk Barn célébrait cette année son 10e anniversaire à titre de commanditaire de la Pause-café. La somme de 342 491 $ a été recueillie cette année, pour un total de près de deux millions de dollars. La coordonnatrice de la Pause-café, Laura Berljawsky et le responsable du financement, John Hayward, ont rendu visite à Bulk Barn pour recevoir le chèque. (photos ci-dessous).

Bulk barn 2

BulkBarn2

Why I work to support people with Alzheimer’s

Why I work to support people with Alzheimer’s

Beth Haas, Behavioural Support Worker for the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, shares her connection to Alzheimer’s disease.

Can you share what your personal connection to Alzheimer’s disease has been?

First it was my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s disease. It was still called senility in the 1970s.   At an early age,  I had to travel every other weekend to support her as she struggled to remain in the farmhouse where she had spent all of her married life.

And then, years later, Alzheimer’s struck again.  My mother began to experience memory loss. I witnessed  her  efforts to appear normal , but she recognized warning signs she had seen in her mother. I was 24 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

And still the diagnoses keep coming. My mother-in-law was next, and this occurred  while caring for my father-in-law, who had vascular dementia. For a number of years, my husband and I juggled living far away with caregiving.

Were there initial warning signs that lead you to believe your mother’s health was changing?

With my mother, it was a year and a half before she was diagnosed.  She had short term memory issues but it went beyond that.  She seemed more fragile, unsure of herself, handed me her car keys to drive if we went out together, deferred to my father more often and became weepy. Her handwriting became shaky, spidery.

My siblings and I thought it was depression, specifically empty nest syndrome. She had no children at home for the first time in almost 40 years. She defined herself as a mother and she excelled at it.

Years later, while tidying my parents’ bedroom, I came across a letter that she had written to a talk show host after an episode on dementia. In her letter, she described noticing signs of memory loss in herself at least 3 years before any of us recognized changes. This seems to be supported in emerging research today: subjective cognitive impairment not yet detected  with today’s cognitive testing often develops into dementia.  What was heartbreaking was how she was so successful in hiding this from us for so long.

There are 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease.  People may think these symptoms are a part of normal aging but they aren’t. Learn the signs here.

What support, if any, did you access?

The Alzheimer Society was brand new in the community where I lived. I attended one of their first support groups and it became a lifeline. I learned what we were experiencing at home was not unusual and, more importantly, that I was not alone.  They provided strategies, contact information for other community resources,  and an outline of what lay ahead. I inhaled it all and took it home to my dad and siblings.

Out of this came fuller understanding, more patience and tolerance for Mom and greater support for my dad who was the primary caregiver.

What propelled you to work in this field?

My original goal in university was to work in gerontology but then life intervened. My husband found employment in Europe. By then, my grief around my mother was too much to work in this field. Fifteen years after later when I was back in Canada, I was offered a position with the Alzheimer Society of Oxford.

My experiences help me understand what family members live with. It spurs me to think that I am contributing even in a small way, giving back to make the life of someone else’s mom a bit better.  That may sound clichéd, but my mother’s life guides me in most of what I do at work.

 Learn more about the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Beth-haasBeth Haas, Alzheimer Society of Oxford

Give your brain and body a boost in Toronto!

Give your brain and body a boost in Toronto!

 

Give your brain and body a boost!

MiM 

Minds in Motion® program launches in Toronto for Alzheimer Awareness Month

 

She is challenging herself physically, using those muscles she needs to get out of a chair, to go upstairs.”  This comment is a tribute to the power of Minds in Motion®, an Alzheimer Society program launching in Toronto, along with an additional 11 Ontario communities, in January 2015 for Alzheimer Awareness Month. Designed for people with early to mid-stage signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias and their care partners, Minds in Motion incorporates physical activity and mental stimulation as a way of helping people live well with the disease, while encouraging care partners to take care of themselves as well.

Less than half of Ontario’s older adults get the recommended 2 ½ hours of physical activity per week, despite growing evidence that mental and social stimulation develop connections between brain cells, which in turn maintains cognitive functions longer. Minds in Motion® has built its program incorporating 45 minutes of physical exercise and 45 minutes of mentally stimulating activities.

Minds in Motion® was first introduced in 2009 in British Columbia, in response to a need for community-based programming for people with early dementia and their care partners that did not make participants feel marginalized or embarrassed. In the spring of 2014, the program then launched in Ontario with start-up funds from the Ontario Brain Institute. Enthusiastic care partners say “He seems more cheerful now and I have more tenacity now to keep going on the journey..” People with dementia are just as keen with comments like, “If I could change one thing about the Minds in Motion it would be… to make it full time”

The social aspect of the program is a critical success factor. People with dementia often feel isolated because of the stigma associated with the disease. Minds in Motion® promotes an environment that helps participants establish friendships with others who are living similar experiences.

Minds in Motion® runs for 2 hours/week for 8 weeks. Registration is $40/couple (includes a healthy snack).

Interested individuals living in the GTA can select to register for one of the two locations below.

Option A
North York Seniors Centre
21 Hendon Avenue, Toronto
Start Date: January 20, 2015
Tuesdays 10am-12pm

Option B
Harbourfront Community Centre
627 Queen’s Quay, Toronto
Start Date: January 21, 2015
Wednesdays 4pm-6pm
For any questions, or to register, please contact Romina Oliverio at 416-640-6330 or roliverio@alzheimertoronto.org

For more information on Minds in Motion, visit www.mindsinmotion.ca

Note: Upon sign-up, participants will be asked a few questions and undergo a physical assessment to ensure the program is the right fit for them. The assessments will be done in early January (location and dates TBD)

Article by: Romina Oliverio

Deloitte Impact Day in Toronto

Deloitte Impact Day in Toronto

If you have volunteered with the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, the name Harbel Singh Arora will be a familiar one. Harbel was a dedicated man who volunteered with the Alzheimer Society of Toronto every day for almost seventeen years to honour his sister with dementia.

Inspired by his family, Harbel’s grandson, Jagneet Arora, began volunteering with the society as well. As an employee of Deloitte, Jagneet has had the opportunity to participate in their Impact Day, which allows staff members to volunteer in the community.

Volunteer at desk
Deloitte volunteer Jagneet Arora supporting the iPod Project in Toronto

This year, we invited Deloitte Impact Day volunteers, including Jagneet, to support the Alzheimer Society of Toronto’s iPod Project. With their help, we ran an iPod Refresher clinic which allowed caregivers to update the music on their iPods. The iPod Project provides personalized music for people in the community living with dementia.

By meeting caregivers, the volunteers, including Jagneet’s wife Gursimran, could see the immediate impact of their volunteer work.

Volunteer sitting beside a caregiver
Wonderful volunteers spent the day supporting caregivers and updating their iPods with new music to enjoy.

“While the songs were loading, the caregivers told the volunteers some amazing stories about how this project has helped,” said Nicole Paton, Volunteer Coordinator. “It was so rewarding to hear family members were seeing a difference.”

One caregiver, Rebecca, said the iPod project has made an impact in her day-to -day caregiving. “Music can change my mother’s mood instantly and take her to a better place. In these moments, it’s like I’m seeing my real Mom again.”

Volunteer and caregiver
Updating iPods allows the society to create a more personalized experience for the user.

With the annual support of Deloitte Impact Day volunteers, the Alzheimer Society of Toronto is able to find new and engaging ways to support the community. It is because of dedicated volunteers like the Arora family and Deloitte Impact Day that we are able to help people in Toronto live well with dementia.

For more information:
Alzheimer Society of Toronto iPod Project
Alzheimer Society of Toronto Volunteer Opportunities
Deloitte Impact Day