Leaving the cold, damp spring weather in Kingston was not a difficult task, especially since I was heading to Puerto Rico where 90 degree weather, palm trees and the promise of a warm ocean breeze were welcoming, if not beckoning me. And yet, despite these assurances, I stepped on the plane with a heightened degree of anticipation not typical of this somewhat veteran traveller.
For this was no ordinary vacation. Sent off with the hugs and encouragement of my two little ones and my husband, I was off to the land of fortresses, beaches, mofongo and bioluminescent bays to present at the 29th Annual Alzheimer Disease International (ADI) Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
This conference brings together staff and volunteers of Alzheimer associations, people with dementia, family members, clinicians, care professionals and scientists to share and learn from one another. I had been selected to present on the Shifting Focus guide (shiftingfocus.ca) of which I was the primary author.
To say I was honored and pleased would be an immense understatement. To be acknowledged by the members of the ADI for quality work, have the opportunity to represent the team of people who helped to create this guide and present this labour of love to the best of the best in the dementia world would be a career highlight and a true privilege.
The big day arrived and truth be told, I wasn’t nervous, just excited and secretly a little thrilled to see my name beside “Canada” in the conference program. It is certainly the closest I have ever or will ever come to representing my country in any form – academic or athletic!
I was the first to present in the Education and Behaviour category and when I looked up from the podium I was pleased to see the familiar faces of Gale Carey, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, and Lisa Loiselle, from the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program , quietly supporting me. The presentation went off without a hitch and members of the audience from Singapore, Australia and the UK provided some wonderful feedback and interest in the guide.
After my presentation I was able to go back to participant mode and enjoy the rest of the conference, hoping, if not knowing that I had made a slight impact in the lives of those diagnosed with a dementia and their care partners and fellow residents, both present and future.
I am grateful that Queen’s University and the Clinical Lead of this project Dr. Ken LeClair recognized and supported this opportunity. I am so proud of what our team created and to share it with others from all over the world was incredible….and the sun and sand didn’t hurt either.
To see more videos and other resources available, go to www.shiftingfocus.ca
shifting focus author