On Thursday, April 27th, 2017, Ontario Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, introduced the 2017 Ontario Budget, A Stronger, Healthier Ontario, which included $100 million over three years for the implementation of an Ontario dementia strategy. This is in addition to the $20 million investment for improving respite care for unpaid care partners that was announced earlier in the week.
This is a major win for the over 220,000 Ontarians and their families who have been impacted by dementia!
The Alzheimer Society of Ontario commends Premier Wynne, Minister Sousa and Minister Hoskins for making dementia a priority in Ontario and investing to enhance care and support for people living with dementia and those who care for them.
The Alzheimer Society strongly believes that a fully-funded and comprehensive strategy is the best solution to ensuring that Ontarians with dementia have the resources they need to live well in their homes and in their communities for as long as possible, and to ensure that their care partners and families are wholly supported.
Thank you to all of our dedicated supporters and allies without whom yesterday’s announcement for a fully-funded provincial dementia strategy may not have been realized.
Stay tuned for more, great dementia strategy news and updates!
Read the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s press release to respond to the 2017 Budget announcement.
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:
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
I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see me. That is me…the same ‘me’ I’ve always seen when I look in the mirror.
But wait – is it really the same ‘me’? Is this what others see? I look like me – or the ‘me’ I was.
You see, I have changed – not on the outside, not in who I am, not in what I believe; I haven’t changed in how I see the world.
You see, I’ve changed in how my mind works.
The words…the words I use, they don’t come easy; they become confused. That word I want to use – you know that word – it won’t come to me now.
Oh yes, there I am, there in the mirror. What did I come in here for? I don’t know. Well, I’m in the bathroom looking in the mirror…I must be in here for something.
Oh look, here is a hairbrush. That must be it – I must have come in to brush my hair.
But when I look in the mirror, my hair is already brushed. No, no, that is not what I’m in here for.
This disease is making me confused at times. But I’m still me when I look in the mirror.
No, wait – those aren’t my eyes. Those eyes I see looking back at me are tired; my eyes aren’t tired.
My eyes twinkle and are full of life. I am full of life.
Look, look in the mirror – that is me. The ‘me’ others see.
Look at my smile – there it is – yes, I am happy. I have a loving husband and a supportive family. Yes, I am happy.
But, wait…that smile is drooping…my smile doesn’t droop.
Is this a sign of that disease in my head…the one that is attacking my brain? The brain that does not always work the way I want it to…
Can others see theses signs, too?
Look in the mirror – this is me.
How long will I still be me? How long will I still see me?
How soon before I look in this mirror and the ‘me’ won’t be there?
© 2016 Phyllis Fehr
Phyllis is a person living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. She is a strong advocate for the rights and abilities of people with dementia at the local, national and international level. Read her full bio here: http://www.odag.ca/our-people.html
On March 4th, the doors opened bright and early at MaRs Discovery District for DementiaHack 2017. Throughout the morning, registrants trickled in, setting up their computers and discussing their plans for the upcoming 36 hour-long event. An annual event hosted by Hackernest, Dementia Hack is a competition to create innovative technology to help people with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neuro-degenerative diseases. With over 300 developers gathered together to compete, the room was buzzing with eager participants, discussing and preparing their projects.
Opening remarks were led by Jordan Banks (Facebook Canada) followed by Mayor John Tory, Gerry Gallagher (Public Health Agency of Canada) and Kevin McGurgin (Dementia Hack). Each speaker noted how inspiring it was to see so many young and bright individuals working together to help people with dementia and their caregivers. The winners of the competition would receive a cash prize of $100,000 to develop their technology, but it wouldn’t just be them who won. Today, 564,000 Canadians are living with dementia, and even more people worldwide. With the help of the hard work of the developers at this event, many more resources and tools would be developed that could make a huge impact on the lives of people with dementia.
At 10:30 am, the competition began, and each team started working on their projects. Around the room, were mentors from various backgrounds of expertise in the fields of dementia, health services and research. Team members approached mentors throughout the day to ask for their expert opinions on the design of their projects. Amongst the group of mentors, were Phyllis Fehr and Agnes Houston, who brought vital perspectives to each group. Phyllis and Agnes are both diagnosed with dementia and are prominent advocates for people with dementia and their caregivers.
The next day, the judges evaluated each project to determine who would take home the grand prize for the competition. One of the judges, Lisa Salapatek (Chief Program and Public Policy Officer at the Alzheimer Society of Ontario), spoke about the event and projects submitted:
“I had the honour of being a mentor and judge for the Family Caregiver Challenge set. It turned out to be the most popular category with 20 teams competing, and their solutions and presentations were nothing short of amazing, ranging from in-home artificial intelligence and sensor systems to reduce safety concerns, to virtual scrapbooks and storytelling tools, to uber-inspired apps to help families access the support they need on demand. There were long debates as the judges for each challenge set came together to come to come to a consensus on which teams would move on to the finals.”
After the judges had all met, the grand-prize winner of the competition was announced: Team Momentum, for their application, MemoApp. The application works by passively collecting and analyzing data about the person with dementia through natural voice recording, to help them and their caregiver better track the progression of their dementia, and to gather data for researchers to better understand the progression of dementia. The runner-ups in the competition were the applications: Bright Guide, Rescue and ConnectDem.
We look forward to seeing how these incredible applications will develop and what new and innovative ideas will be brought to next year’s Dementia Hack!
Winter is on its way, bringing with it snow, sleigh bells, and a renewed importance around being safe in our homes and communities. To prepare, we’re putting snow tires on our cars, pulling winter boots out of storage, and stocking up on salt for our sidewalks and driveways – but for people with dementia, those safety steps go a bit further.
If you’re living with dementia or helping to care for someone with dementia, here are some important factors to maintain safety in your community through the winter.
Proper clothing is one of our first levels of protection in inclement weather – so be sure to pull the sweaters, winter coats, boots, hats, scarves, and mitts out of storage so that season-appropriate clothing is close at hand. Footwear considerations are extremely important – find boots with good grip, that are well-insulated, and with velcro instead of laces for ease. For those items like hats and mitts that seem to disappear, purchase a few extras so that you’re never without. It’s a good idea to buy clothing items that are brightly coloured or distinctive in some way – if someone with dementia gets lost, it will help as an identifying marker.
If you see someone in the community this winter who isn’t dressed properly for the weather, they may need assistance. Visit our Finding Your WayⓇ website to learn how to help someone with dementia who may be lost.
Sundowning refers to the time period – usually later in the day – when confusion and agitation increase for people with dementia. With less sunlight and shorter days during the winter months, sundowning can be exacerbated, but there are ways to help ward it off.
Keep curtains open as much as possible during the day to let in sunlight. Turn lights on in the home earlier in the evening, and consider purchasing a special light box to provide specialized light therapy. If applicable, ensure that outdoor walkways around the home are well-lit, and consider adding motion-detected lights outside. Remember that people with dementia often have issues with visual perception, so helping to keep homes well-lit indoors and out is extremely important.
- Dress appropriately for the weather
- Use handrails to walk up and down steps, when available
- Step carefully into snow – snow drifts can hide uneven surfaces
- Avoid or walk carefully on unsalted areas – shadowed areas can still be icy even if temperatures are above 0 degrees
- Consider purchasing a walking aid to help with balance while walking during the winter
Inside The Home
- Keep heat at a comfortable level
- Be sure that space/electric heaters are checked regularly, and do not place them in areas where someone can trip over them
- Make sure the phones are connected properly and cell phones are charged well to maintain communication
- Keep wet boots on heavy duty mats to avoid slipping in puddles – but make sure all mats lay flat to avoid tripping hazards
- Don’t spend too much time indoors – when it’s safe, take some time to get some fresh air and a change of scenery
These tips are just some of the ways that people with dementia can remain safe and active during the winter months. Don’t forget to consider the use of locating technologies – a cell phone, door sensor, or GPS tracker may be helpful to avoid a wandering incident or to help find someone who has gone missing. Want to learn more? Visit the updated Finding Your WayⓇ technology page!
Winter is a beautiful season, and meant to be enjoyed – so be safe, and have fun!
A few months ago, my cousin posted a wonderful video of my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. The year was 1994. My grandfather gave a wonderful, heartfelt speech about what his wife meant to him. The family did skits making fun of the onion sandwich he ordered on their first date. There was even Karaoke. Good times.
While the first 50 years of marriage were wonderful for my grandparents, the years that followed for them and for our family were extremely challenging. Shortly after this celebration, my grandfather Alexander was diagnosed with a form of dementia. With his loyal wife Clara by his side, he slowly deteriorated over a 10-year period. It was absolutely heartbreaking watching a man with such wit, and intellect slowly become someone else.
Then shortly after my grandfather passed away, my grandmother was diagnosed with a form of dementia. She is now well into her 90s, and has maintained all of her class and dignity. It has been so difficult for our family to go through this more than one time.
That said we are so lucky that my grandparents had the foresight to prepare. While they had the capacity to do so, they both had prepared their Will and powers of attorney. Everything was set up in accordance with their wishes. The Will appointed executors and beneficiaries for their property. A power of attorney appointed family members to act as their substitute decision maker for matters of property and for matters of personal care.
By taking the time to do so, our family avoided the expensive court procedures associated with guardianship applications. There was no need to purchase expensive insurance or bonds that would have been required had the documents not been in place. We have saved money on lawyers, and saved so much of the aggravation and heartache that goes along with unplanned estates.
This is why I was so thrilled when the Alzheimer Society asked me to guest blog for Make a Will month. I am so passionate about making sure that people have the proper documentation in place. I know firsthand how important this is.
Over the course of this month, I will be providing you with information about what goes into making a Will. What are the things you need to consider? What are some of the traps you can fall into? If there is one message I would like send out to everyone, is that doing these documents CANNOT WAIT. It is way too important.
You may be thinking that doing a Will is expensive and time-consuming. Fees can vary greatly depending on the complexity of your Will and where you live. For example, for a straight forward Will, my law firm charges $399 for a Will and two powers of attorney, with a full consultation with a lawyer. ($699 for a couple). And it does not take very long. Most of my clients take about 3-5 hours in total to complete everything that needs to be done.
Completing these documents is so necessary. Please don’t delay; if you need information right away, there are a number of ways to reach me.
Call me now at (416) 863-1300.
Or send me an e-mail now at email@example.com
Or follow this link to set up a free 15 minute phone consultation or a 2 hour Will instruction session.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you come back during the month of November to read important information for doing your estate plans. Your reward? Getting into action to protect your family, your assets, and gain peace of mind.
Fall is a spectacular time of year in Ontario! The leaves begin to change and despite the air getting a bit cooler, time spent with family and friends makes it clear that this time of year is full of warmth.
This season of Thanksgiving we are reminded of how grateful we are for our family of supporters at Alzheimer Society of Ontario. Whether you have supported us through an event, are a monthly donor, subscribe to our blog, volunteer, have remembered us in your Will or have #RaisedAMug for Alzheimer’s – WE THANK YOU!
Your generosity helps to change the lives of 564,000 people across Ontario affected by dementia. Our province is home to world-leading researchers working to halt or treat this disease. Others are finding ways, both practical and inventive, to improve quality of life for caregivers.
Here are some of the ways you have impacted Alzheimer’s research.
Unlocking the mysteries of the brain
Since 1989, we’ve awarded more than $50 million in grants to researchers across Canada through the Alzheimer Society Research Program.
Over the duration of the program, these researchers have helped to:
- Identify potential new drugs to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease
- Develop techniques to distinguish different forms of dementia using neuroimaging, enabling more targeted treatments for people with dementia
- Show how diet and other lifestyle choices may delay the disease
- Develop technologies to enhance the quality of life, care and safety for people affected by the disease
- Improve care delivery in the community and in long-term care settings
Meet a Researcher
Thanks to support from our donors and the Alzheimer Society Research Program, Dr. Frank Rudzicz, is currently developing artificial intelligence software to help people with dementia that experience difficulty communicating with others.
Dr. Rudzicz has designed voice-based software to “converse” with a person and assess their speech for this language disability and for language problems associated with memory loss. Pilot tests show it gives accurate and early diagnoses.
Changes in the brain resulting in dementia begin up to 25 years before most symptoms appear. Rudzicz thinks his software could help catch those changes early so people can get treatment at this stage.
This incredible research and others like that being done by Dr. Rudzicz would not be possible without you. Thank you again for your wonderful support!