When forgetful ‘senior moments’ became more frequent, Mary knew there was something more serious going on with her husband Bill.
“I noticed little things were happening and that they were memory related,” said Mary, who chose to use a different name to tell her story to the Journal.
Feeling alone in their struggle and not knowing where to turn, Mary and her grown children began researching Alzheimer’s and dementia, looking for resources in the city. Assistance was found through the Mental Help for Seniors program run through Prairie Regional Health which lead to the Westman Alzheimer Society.
“We got a marvellous case worker and made some great connections,” Mary says of the support provided. During workshops, information and networking, Mary soon learned that she and her husband were not alone in their experiences.
“Meeting people who are involved in similar situations is very helpful. The groups consist of caregivers of all ages as well as the person with dementia,” she explained.
One of the most helpful experiences Mary had was watching a video on dementia from the patient’s perspective.
“It helped me understand what he was going through and the possible behaviours I could expect,” she said.
Through connecting with others, she and her family learned a great deal about Alzheimer’s, dementia and the resources available.
“Everyone is affected differently,” she says, “but through the discussions we’d each have our ‘aha’ moments.”
Through the Alzheimer Society, Mary attends monthly meetings with other caregivers and finds the process very helpful.
“We hear each other’s circumstances, their situations and their reactions,” she said. “There is a lot of information and wonderful support.”
Mary explained that the society provides a great deal of assistance that can be tailored to the client through one-on-one meetings. Telehealth services are also available and are a convenient resource for people in rural areas.
“They keep you well informed and invite you to bring in other people such as your children, so they can understand the situation as well,” she said.
“They can explain the technical stuff that can make caring for your loved one easier. It’s important to know the process that’s going on and while things are different for different people we all have good days and bad days.”
The Alzheimer Society is hosting a Memory Walk on Thursday, June 11 in Brandon with registration beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the walk starting at 6 p.m. The walk will take place at Grand Valley Community Church, located at 1620 Braecrest Drive. A two kilometre and a four kilometre route are being planned and are open to anyone wishing to attend. Walkers are encouraged to pre-register through www.alzheimer.mb.ca where pledge forms are available.
“There are 20,000 Manitobans with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia,” said Jodee Webster, events and administrative coordinator with the Westman Alzheimer Society. “This means one in three Manitobans is affected by dementia.
“The Memory Walk is a way of raising funds for the support groups run throughout the Westman region and is also a way to bring awareness,” she added.
For more information on the Alzheimer Society or to register for the Memory Walk, please visit www.alzheimer.mb.ca or call 204-729-8320.