People living with dementia, and their caregivers, are facing more social isolation than ever in an increasingly uncertain world, and the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is doubling down on efforts to change the future for Abbotsford and Mission residents affected by the disease.
This January, throughout Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, people across the province are sharing their experiences and hopes for the future. While there is wide recognition that the pandemic has had an immense impact on people living with dementia in long-term care, it has affected people living in the community too.
People like Ron Restrick.
Living with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) – a condition that leads to problems with memory, language and judgment –Restrick lives on his own. A positive person, he has worked to stay active and engaged, staying involved in his neighborhood and going for hikes.
“I like to say hello to neighbours while I’m running around the block. It’s a part of who I am,” he says.
Despite COVID-19, Restrick remains upbeat.
“I’m upset that it has caused problems for my family, but it hasn’t interfered with me at all. I get my food, go for walks and hikes. I still talk with my family and friends on the phone.”
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is sharing stories like Restrick’s to raise awareness and encourage everyone to play a role in making change.
“Individual gestures of support – the ripples – create the groundswell that is needed to help us reach this future. Everyone has a role to play,” says Victoria Wilson, a support and education coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of B.C.‘s East Fraser Resource Centre.
“You can celebrate Alzheimer’s Awareness Month by staying connected to people in your life who are affected by the disease, raising your voices to advocate and investing in our cause.”
As part of the month, residents are invited to a special webinar sponsored by Clark Wilson LLP titled “Raise Your Voice: Dementia, Long-term Care and COVID-19” on Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 2 to 3 p.m.
The webinar will feature a panel of experts and people with lived experience discussing the challenge of balancing health and safety concerns with ensuring that families can support people living with dementia in long-term care to stay active and engaged.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on a problem that advocates and support persons were keenly aware of prior to the emergence of this global health crisis: individuals with dementia are too often silenced, and their needs too casually overlooked,” says Emily Clough from Clark Wilson LLP, who is moderating the panel.
“It is important to remember that these individuals have much to share, both with respect to directing their own care and contributing to society at large. We owe our elders, and those closest to them, a duty to listen, and to respect their dignity and autonomy. Together we can create a safer, more inclusive future for individuals and families coping with dementia.”
An estimated 70,000 British Columbians are living with dementia, and that number is only going to increase. Visit alzbc.org/future to register for the webinar or for more information.