eNewsletter July 2013

Gardening Tips

woman gardening gloves posies flowers gardening toolsGardens can be a place where a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia can stay familiar with memorable activities such as planting flowers or harvesting vegetables.

Spending time in the garden can be a great summertime activity to do with a friend or family member who has Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

If you are going to be gardening with your friend or family member with dementia, there are things you can do to make the experience safe and suitable for them.

Kim Grove, a garden designer and blogger, gives helpful tips for gardeners looking to design a garden for people with dementia in her publication Gardens for People with Dementia: A Guide to Make them Safe and Suitable. The guide covers things such as garden structure, safety considerations, colours and appropriate lighting.

Here are five helpful tips for gardening from Grove’s guide:

couple in garden1. Reminisce

Talk about a person’s favourite flowers, what they used to grow and the gardening tasks they have enjoyed. This can open up the lines of communication and get them talking about other related memories.

2. Keep safe plants

Avoid harmful plants. People with dementia may not remember which plants have poisonous berries, irritate skin or have thorns that could injure them. It’s best if these plants are avoided altogether.

3. Encourage sensory stimulation

Walk around with your friend or family member, point out different types of plants and get them to taste edible plants or stroke soft plants as a sensory stimulation activity.

4. Create therapeutic activities

Sow seeds, plant seedlings, deadhead flowers and harvest vegetables. This can be a good therapeutic activity for someone with dementia.

5. Make the garden easy to walk through

Have a path that guides the person or using plants that are heavily scented or rustle in the breeze can help a person navigate in the garden. Gardens should be easy to walk around and without obstruction.

For more suggestions on gardening with someone with dementia, go to Grove’s full publication here.

2013 Gravelle Petition

petitionClaude Gravelle, Member of Parliament for the riding of Nickel Belt, is asking Canadians concerned about people impacted by dementia to sign his petition.

His petition requests that the Minister of Health and House of Commons create a national strategy for dementia. He is preparing to bring forward a private member’s bill in the House of Commons in the fall of 2014.

To support his bill, An Act Respecting a National Strategy for Dementia, the petition (in both English and French) can be accessed at:


Please note that the Clerk of the House of Commons requires that petitions contain a minimum of 25 signatures. The Clerk will not accept electronic signatures or online petitions.

Signed petitions are to be mailed to (postage free):

Claude Gravelle
MP, House of Commons
Ottawa, ON   K1A 0A6

The Alzheimer Society is supportive of Mr. Gravelle’s petition and encourages concerned people to get behind his initiative. Download the petition and take it with you to gatherings of family and friends this summer. Have petitions arrive at Mr. Gravelle’s Ottawa office by mid-September! This will assure that he can bring forward his bill knowing he has the support of many Canadians.

The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba is interested to know if you have forwarded a petition. Emailnkirkby@alzheimer.mb.ca or call 204-943-6622 to let us know of your advocacy action.

Graduate Student Fellowship

Sheila NovekSheila Novek’s interest in doing research on dementia grew out of her own personal experiences.

When Sheila was a teenager, her mother began showing signs of early onset dementia at the age of 50. Sheila’s mother, who has since passed away, lived with dementia for 11 years.

“The challenges my mother and our family encountered through the health and long term care system inspired me to pursue an education and career focused on improving the quality of life of people with dementia and their caregivers,” Sheila says.

While Sheila was always interested in doing research for her career, her experiences with her mom inspired her focus.

Sheila completed her Master’s degree in Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba where she conducted research and examined the experiences of  immigrant health care aides working in personal care homes. As a research assistant at the Centre on Aging, University of Manitoba, she has also contributed to a number of projects related to aging and family caregiving. She is currently working on her Ph.D.

Most recently, Sheila received the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba’s Graduate Student Fellowship. The fellowship is intended to support research that enhances knowledge about the cause, treatment, cure and effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. For her Ph.D., Sheila will study dementia care and focus her research on the care pathways and service needs of people like her mother with early onset dementia.

“Younger people with dementia have many of the same needs as older adults, but because (it) affects people during a different phase of the life course, they tend to have additional needs and challenges,” Sheila says.

Sheila’s research study will look at administrative data to profile the health and needs of people with early onset dementia living in personal care homes in Winnipeg. She will also interview caregivers to explore how people living with early onset dementia and their caregivers navigate the health and social care system, including access to diagnosis, community supports and personal care homes.

Sheila also hopes her research will help raise awareness of early onset dementia, as she feels there isn’t enough awareness about its existence and the needs of those who have it.

“By advancing understanding of the health and care needs of people with early onset dementia, (my) study is intended to contribute to the development of effective and accessible services for people living with this form of dementia and their caregivers,” said Sheila.

Sheila says being awarded the Alzheimer Society’s Graduate Student Fellowship is extremely meaningful because of the personal connection she has to her studies.

“I am excited about winning the award, and very grateful,” Sheila says.

Caregiver Tips

tipslogoEnjoying the outdoors!

Spending time outdoors has positive health benefits for both the body and mind. Independence, general well-being, sensory pleasure and reminiscence are promoted, while physical functioning may be invigorated.

Going out to the park, lake or farm are great outdoor activities, but there are other ways you can enjoy the outdoors together more frequently.

Take your usual day-to-day activities onto the patio or into the garden.

A few activities that you and the person you care for can do include:

  • Barbecue and eat a meal
  • Care for the garden
  • Spend time with children or grandchildren
  • Play lawn games
  • Read a book
  • Walk
  • Give a massage or pedicure
  • Listen to music
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Spend time with pets
  • Paint or do a craft
  • Feed the birds

Find activities the person with dementia enjoys doing, and adapt the activity to meet their changing interests and needs. What’s most important is that people have the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, bird songs and the burst of colors around them.

When surrounded by nature, everyone can enjoy sensory, physical, social and mind stimulating activities in new ways!

Upcoming Family Education

Provincial Family Education

There will no education sessions throughout July and August. Sessions will resume in the fall.

Click HERE to see a sneak peak of the 2013-14 calendar.

Upcoming Fall Education: 

family edFamily Education – Community Session

Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia’s: Identifying Warning Signs & Planning for the Future

Wednesday, September 18 
7 – 8:30 pm
St. Joseph’s Residence – 1149 Leila Ave 
Click here for online registration


Living with Alzheimer’s Disease or Another Dementia Workshop

Saturday, September 28 & Saturday, October 5
9 am – 2 pm
Lindenwood Manor – 475 Lindenwood Dr E
Click here for online registration

Upcoming Events

2013 Motorcycle Poker Derby

The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba’s 2013 Motorcycle Poker Derby takes place in Brandon, Manitoba on Saturday, August 17, 2013.


Register for Poker Derby online or sponsor a participant HERE

For more information please call Marni at 204-729-8320 or email mloewen@alzheimer.mb.ca

Coffee Break®

Make your coffee count this September and October!

coffee cupCoffee Break® is an Alzheimer Society nationwide annual fundraiser. During September and October, friends, co-workers and customers gather in communities across Manitoba and Canada to raise funds for local Alzheimer Societies.

Participants at these events make a donation in exchange for a cup of coffee. The money raised in Manitoba stays in Manitoba to help support local programs, services and the search for a cure.

Host a Coffee Break® fundraiser at your office, home, local community club, church, school or anywhere your serve coffee. It’s so simple! Just put on a pot of coffee and collect donations for a great cause.

Click HERE to register online.

Annual Report

Annual Report picWe hope you take a moment to look through our Annual Report for 2012-13.

In this report, we celebrate the successes of the Alzheimer Society over the past year.

We have accomplished so much and have come a long way – but there is still a long way to go.