eNewsletter February 2014

Where do I begin: Public Education

Public EdWhile the Alzheimer Society offers many programs and services for those experiencing dementia and their families, we also make it a priority to educate the public about the disease. This helps to create an informed and supportive community for people with dementia.

The Alzheimer Society’s Public Education seminars ensure that information is readily available for people living in the community who are affected by or concerned about dementia. Alzheimer Society staff work with community organizations serving seniors, cultural groups and schools to educate others about dementia as well as create awareness of the Society’s programs and services.

Dave Friesen, president of Mensheds Manitoba, an organization designed to give men a space to work on projects together, learn new skills and share life experience, believes it’s important to educate his group members about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Dave invited the Alzheimer Society to present to his group.

“We worry that we might develop this disease or our spouses might become affected,” says Dave. “We’re all senior guys and I think it’s important to know what signs to look for and how to communicate with people who have the disease,” says Dave.

Dave’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a couple of years ago, and he knows other group members have family affected by dementia as well.

“Some of us are going through this with our parents or other family members,” Dave explains. “The Alzheimer Society gave us great information to help us better understand the disease.”

The Alzheimer Society’s public education seminars aim to help Manitobans understand dementia, recognize the warning signs and learn about the benefits of early diagnosis. The Society also hopes to help people become more accepting and supportive of those living with the disease, in turn reducing the stigma still associated with this disease.

“The more people know about dementia, the more comfortable they will be to talk openly and honestly about it,” says Norma Kirkby, Program Director, Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. “Treating people with dementia with respect and dignity is as important as providing them with the best possible treatment and care.”

If you would like the Alzheimer Society to present to your organization or workplace, you can contact Jennifer Licardo, Education Coordinator, Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, to arrange for a seminar at alzeducation@alzheimer.mb.ca.

Click here more information about public education at the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba or call 204-943-6622 (Winnipeg) or 1-800-378-6699 (outside of Winnipeg).

This is part four of a four part series highlighting some of the programs and services offered by the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.


Working together to maintain relationships

Terry and MomLiving with dementia can be a team effort, so sitting down and discussing options together ensures each family member knows who is contributing what. As the disease progresses, roles and responsibilities change while important decisions continue to be made.

Terry McKee’s mother, Heidi Schroeder, was diagnosed with vascular dementia five years ago. Terry keeps herself organized to ensure she stays in touch with what is happening in order to better meet her mother’s needs.

“I phone my parents at the start of every week and ask what appointments and other things they have coming up. I have a calendar on the wall where I write everything down. I try to be my mom’s external memory,” says Terry.

When everyone in the family participates in caregiving responsibilities, it’s important to communicate and set clear expectations. For example, families can assign one person to assist with grocery shopping, one to help with laundry and one to manage the finances, all while taking time to visit in between. Doing this keeps everyone involved, as they are able, and helps maintain connections and positive relationships.

Out of five siblings, Terry and her two sisters are the only ones who live in Winnipeg. The three of them check in with each other regularly to plan activities they can do with their mom. This includes taking time to visit over lunch or tea, staying involved with Sunday church and making sure Heidi gets her “window shopping fix”.

Cheryl Demasi, Client Support Coordinator at the Alzheimer Society, says making sure the person with dementia has opportunity to participate in activities with family and friends helps maintain relationships. In order to do this, Cheryl says it’s important for family and friends to see the person with dementia as a person first, separating them from their disease.

“People with dementia want to be part of family activities. It’s important to respect the person with dementia and help them feel loved,” says Cheryl.

It’s important to make sure the person with dementia and the caregiver both receive support as the disease progresses. To keep from feeling overwhelmed, Terry ‘recharges her batteries’ by maintaining her own hobbies and passions.

“It’s all about listening to what mom and dad need and then discussing the best way to do things,” says Terry. “It’s also helpful to divide the load with family. My mom was a ‘supermom’ who devoted her whole life to looking after us. Right now, we are working together to care for mom and dad.”


How to handle the February blues

Feb bluesWinter in Manitoba can be long and cold. January and February are especially long months without much sunlight to keep spirits up. The weather can often make it harder to get out and access supports or pleasurable activities with friends and family, things that typically are known to enhance mood.

Dr. Lesley Koven, a clinical psychologist, says that these cold months can cause one’s mood to dip. She says that one good way to beat the winter blues is by taking a preventative approach.

“We live in Manitoba and winter is part of our lives. For a lot of people, it’s beneficial to think ahead about what might be helpful in lifting their mood during potentially difficult months,” says Dr. Koven.

Registering for a class or joining a group can help buffer against a low mood before it becomes a problem. This allows for a scheduled time to get out of the home.

“When we’re in a low mood, it’s harder to get the motivation to make changes. It’s a lot better to try to take steps that prevent this from happening,” Dr. Koven explains.

Specifically for caregivers, Dr. Koven suggests talking to friends or family to arrange their commitment of a set weekly time to help. This way, caregivers have a block of time that they can plan to take for themselves.

“Have that in place ahead of time and know it’s coming,” Dr. Koven says.

Dr. Koven also recommends planning ahead for activities that can be done indoors. These activities can be for the caregiver alone or something to be tried by the person with dementia and their caregiver. Some ideas include scrapbooking, knitting or watching a movie.

“Stock up on things that can be pulled out on a cold, slippery day when you can’t get out,” Dr. Koven suggests.

Dr. Koven says it’s important to try and get out of the house as much as possible during the winter months, even if it’s just for a walk down the driveway, around the block or for a cup of coffee.

“Exercise and fresh air are really good for mood.  Even though the tendency might be to hibernate and stay indoors because it’s easier, one may have to push oneself to get out of the house,” recommends Dr. Koven.

Click here for tips in choosing activities to do with a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

It is important to recognize the difference between a normal seasonal slump and mood changes that might indicate a more significant concern that should be addressed. If you are noticing low mood for most of the day for more than two weeks, contact your family physician.


Participate in a survey for caregivers

Customer SatisfactionThe National Reference Centre for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care in Salamanca, Spain, under the auspices of the Spanish Government, has developed a survey for caregivers of people with dementia in order to understand the status of care at home worldwide.

The data provided by participants is anonymous. The survey consists of 25 questions and takes about three minutes to complete.

Click here to access the survey

If you cannot read the survey in English, please refresh the page.


Free family education session: Options in Community Care

Comm CareThe Alzheimer Society provides family education to educate and empower people with dementia, their families and friends.

Learn about options in community care (home care vs family managed care) for people with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia on Wednesday, February 19 from 7 to 8:30 pm at River Ridge Retirement Residence.

The session will be presented by Carol Rampul, Team Manager of Self and Family Care / Health Coordination at WRHA.

Click here to register online
Click here for poster


Caregiving Tips


Getting a good night sleep

People with dementia may have changes in their sleep patterns and at times remain awake during the night.

Better mood, thought patterns and safety are some of the benefits of a well-rested body and mind. Some practical things you can do to help improve sleep patterns include:

• Encourage the person to be physically active.
• Avoid excessive sleeping during the day. If the person is tired and sleepy, suggest a short nap early in the afternoon.
• Minimize caffeine during the day.
• Engage in relaxing activities later in the day.
• Minimize bright lights around bedtime; use night lights for safety and to avoid confusion.
• Keep the bedroom cool but comfortable.
• Help the person to feel secure and comforted. For example:

  • Play soft music
  • Give a light back rub
  • Offer alternatives such as sleeping in a recliner or adding more pillows
  • Suggest a warm beverage and/or a light snack before bedtime

• Check whether any of the following are causing discomfort:

  • Hunger
  • Bathroom needs
  • Uncomfortable clothing
  • Being too warm or too cold
  • Pain levels

If sleep disruptions continue after using the suggested non-medication approaches, consult the person’s doctor as there may be other medical causes that require exploration.

Click here for further reading about sleep and dementia.


Upcoming Education


Options in Community Care: Home Care vs. Family Managed Care
Wednesday, February 19
7 pm – 8:30 pm
River Ridge Retirement Residence
50 Ridgecrest Ave (map)
Click here for poster
Click here to register


Driving and Dementia
Thursday, March 13
7 pm – 8:30 pm
St. George’s Anglican Church
168 Wilton St. (map)
*Only 25 spots available
Click here for poster
Click here to register


Living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias Workshop (LWAD)

Saturday, February 22 – Selkirk
9 am – 4 pm
Gordon Howard Senior Centre
384 Eveline Ave
Click here for poster


Saturday, March 8 – Winnipeg
* Bilingual session

9 am – 4 pm
Villa Aulneau
601 Aulneau Rd (map)
Click here for poster
Click here to register


Saturday, April 5 – Brandon
9 am – 4 pm
4th Floor Assiniboine Centre
150 McTavish Ave
Click here for poster
Click here to register



The Alzheimer Society offers Family Education for those experiencing dementia in over 32 communities across the province via video technology.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias: A Medical Perspective
Tuesday, February 4
6:30 pm – 8 pm (please arrive by 6:15 pm)
Click here for a complete list of Telehealth locations
Click here to register


Communication: The Right Approach
Tuesday, February 11
6:30 pm – 8 pm (please arrive by 6:15 pm)
Click here for a complete list of Telehealth locations
Click here to register


Experiencing Dementia Program

The Alzheimer Society’s Experiencing Dementia program unities people diagnosed by early-stage dementia, family members and caregivers.

Thursdays beginning February 20
8-week classroom program
10 am – 11:30 am
Click here for poster



Dementia Care 2014

The Dementia Care conference is a two day learning opportunity for healthcare professionals caring for people with dementia.

Join us March 10 & 11, 2014 at Canad Inns Polo Park for Dementia Care 2014!

Click here to view Dementia Care 2014 website
Click here to register online

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Upcoming Events

A Night to Remember in Ireland Gala

Join us on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the RBC Convention Centre for A Night to Remember in Ireland Gala! Featuring a trip for two to Ireland! Join us for a gourmet meal, live and silent auctions and entertainment.

Sponsor a table for 10 for $2000 with sponsorship benefits, or purchase tickets for $200 each.

Click here for more information.


Carman Alzheimer Awareness Ukrainian Dinner

This year’s annual dinner takes place Friday, February 28 at 5 pm at the Active Living Centre in Carman, Manitoba. Purchase a $30 ticket to enjoy Ukrainian food and entertainment.

Click here for more information.


Brandon Chili Cook Off

Join us on Friday, March 14 for the 19th annual Chili Cook-Off from 6 to 8:30 pm at Houstons Country Roadhouse in Brandon, Manitoba.

Chili Cook-Off teams and individual competitors will add their own secret ingredient to the traditional beef, beans, tomatoes and spices to try and win an award for Best Chili. Also, diners can pay just $10 for a bowl of chili, a bun and a drink.

After the Chili Cook-Off, join us for Yuk-Yuk Comedy from 8:30 to 10 pm. Tickets cost $20.

Click here for more information.


Memory Walk

Throughout the month of June, thousands of walkers throughout Manitoba will raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. The money raised helps support programs and services for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, and in the search for a cure.

The next Memory Walk will take place Thursday, June 12, 2014 at The Forks in Winnipeg!

Click here for more information.

Website coming soon!