After she began having trouble with numbers and finding her way home from work, Lynn Jackson discovered that she was living with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) in her early forties.
Lynn is one of many British Columbians joining forces with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. this Alzheimer’s Awareness Month to say, “Don’t change. Even if they do.” The campaign aims to inspire people to reflect on ways they will continue to show up for people in their lives who are affected by dementia.
Developing dementia so young is rare, but with the benefit of hindsight, Lynn knows the signs were there. “I had angry outbursts with colleagues,” she says. Working as an ER nurse in Toronto, she attributed her behaviour to burnout and decided to make a major change. “I moved to Mexico City without knowing Spanish or having a job – that was probably another symptom.”
After she moved, Lynn became a medical supply sales representative and was soon indispensable enough that the company sent her to Puerto Rico to establish their presence in South America. During this time, she received her dementia diagnosis. Her employer was incredibly supportive. “They arranged for me to go to conferences that coincided with my specialist appointments in the States.” Lynn eventually went on long-term disability and returned to Canada where she connected with a doctor who understood person-centred care and continues to work with her. With this support, she has been able to manage her dementia and has become a passionate advocate for helping others.
Finding ways to continue to support employees experiencing cognitive difficulties or managing a dementia diagnosis at work. Treating people as partners in their own care. These are just some of the ways British Columbians can continue to show up for people affected by dementia. Visit dontchange.ca. to learn more about the campaign and how others are staying connected.
Tune in for “Opening the door: Why families are essential to care” on Jan. 27 from 2 to 3 p.m. The virtual event features Alzheimer Society of B.C. CEO Jen Lyle in conversation with B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie, exploring the importance of person-centred dementia care and the essential role families play. Register here.
Help raise funds
Tickets are available for Breakfast to Remember on March 3 from 7:30 to 9 a.m., a chance to help raise funds and awareness while listening to a keynote and live Q&A with Dr. Lisa Genova, neuroscientist and bestselling author of Still Alice. Visit BreakfastToRemember.ca to purchase tickets.
If you have questions or concerns about dementia, call the First Link® Dementia Helpline, available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. in English (1-800-936-6033) and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007) and Punjabi (1-833-674-5003).