One in five Canadians will have experience caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. In January some extra light is cast on the disease with Alzheimer’s awareness month.
Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia can be scary; however, Regional Lead for the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories Jennifer Simms explains in a perfect world after someone is diagnosed the doctor giving the diagnosis would present the opportunity for the patient and their family to be connected to the organization through the First Link referral program.
“That in turn gets sent to our office and we call the family, we do an intake with them, we then offer them a suite of services and resources, and we call them a few times a year,” Simms says. “So normally six, 12, 18 months annually, and our goal is to be able to build a report with the families so then it is not just one call a dump of information and having them move on.”
She says these phone calls not only build rapport with the individuals and families but also allow them to go through the journey with the person living with the disease and their family. The hope is by building this report and being on this journey together, then families and individuals feel comfortable reaching out.
“So it is not just the person that is diagnosed – it can be the friend, it can be the spouse, it can be the child, anyone that is looking for support can find that in the Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.”
The society has several events and initiatives coming up to spread awareness about the disease and the support they offer the individuals and families who are living with Alzheimer’s. The society will be making a number of presentations over the next couple of weeks including at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum on January 26th in partnership with Wembley Family and Community Support Services, and the Grande Prairie Public Library on Thursday, January 19th. Before either of these presentations though the Grande Prairie Storm partnered with the society, making Friday night’s game against the Calgary Canucks the Alzheimer’s Awareness game.
“In addition to that, we do have some new programming that is becoming available. We’ve partnered with the Eastlink Centre and we are now offering an in-person Minds in Motion, and registration is open,” Simms says. “So Minds in Motion is intended for people living with dementia of any kind, and it is for those in the early stage to early to middle stage and they can come together with a care partner. They can do a combination of 45 minutes of physical activity and 45 minutes of cognitive activity.”
She adds this follows the idea of ‘what is good for the heart is good for the brain.’ For those in rural areas who are not able to come to Grande Prairie, the program is also offered online.
More information about the different programs offered by the Alzheimer Society, or about the society itself can be found on their website.