eNewsletter April 2014

In this issue

Celebrating the contribution of caregivers
Learning how to cope with grief
Supporting the Alzheimer Society through exercise and dance
Tax season tips
Caregiving tips
Upcoming Education
Upcoming Events

Caregiver Recognition Day

Please join us as we celebrate the third annual Caregiver Recognition Day on April 1 at Riverview Curling Club (420 Maryland Ave, Brandon, MB). The event runs from 1 to 4 pm and includes presentations and display booths.


Celebrating the contributions of caregivers

CaregiverUnpaid caregivers, whether they are relatives, neighbours or friends, spend countless hours helping to care for a person with dementia. Today, April 1,  is Caregiver Recognition Day in Manitoba – a day to celebrate the time and dedication offered by these individuals.

Recognizing your own needs

Bonnie Theissen’s husband, Abe, was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment almost eight years ago. Since then, Abe’s illness has progressed, and Bonnie has had to learn how to care for herself while at the same time caring for her husband of 53 years.

Bonnie loves the time she spends with Abe, but she admits that, at times, it hasn’t been easy. “We used to have many intellectual discussions and debates ­­– and I loved that,” she says. “We were physically active and did lots of hiking. But there has been a slow and steady decline in Abe’s abilities, and we have had to adjust to the changes.”

A couple of years ago, Bonnie recognized that she needed a break to pursue her own interests. It was then that she looked into formal home care support and got advice from the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, Abe’s geriatrician and the couple’s social worker.

“I realize now that I have to have compassion for myself and reach out for help. This way I can be a better caregiver to Abe,” she says.

Today, on Caregiver Recognition Day, we formally acknowledge the contributions of family caregivers such as Bonnie.

Hand-in-hand on the journey

JoanneThe Alzheimer Society of Manitoba challenges you to show your appreciation and to lend a hand, as Joanne Gehman has done in her quest to assist family members with dementia.

Joanne has made it her mission to make the lives of her in-laws, Elizabeth and Clarke Gehman, as comfortable as possible. Elizabeth has dementia, with Clarke being the main caregiver. Joanne has supported them as much as possible during every step of their journey.

“I know what it’s like to be a caregiver because of past experiences in my own family,” explains Joanne, whose late grandfather and aunt had dementia. As well, two of her cousins have dementia, one being Dave Kydd, with whom she communicates regularly. Dave currently resides in a personal care facility in Winnipeg. His wife, Marilyn Davis, appreciates the time that Joanne spends helping her with Dave’s care. Joanne would not be in the position she is in today without Marilyn’s guidance and support in getting her connected with the Alzheimer Society and all they do.

With this background, Joanne has developed an understanding of the needs of caregivers, and she tries to assist Clarke and Elizabeth in logical and meaningful ways. For example, she has been able to accompany them to doctor’s appointments and support groups.

She is also able to ask the right questions to ensure that, on a day-to-day basis, Clarke and Elizabeth are getting the help they need – and she pitches in herself as much as possible. For example, her in-laws will be moving soon, and Joanne has suggested to Clarke that the living room and kitchen in the new apartment be set up with familiar furniture and pictures to ease her mother-in-law into the new setting.

Joanne attends Alzheimer Society of Manitoba workshops and conferences where she is always learning new things. “The main thing is to share your life now, regardless of the disease,” she says. “Deep down, the person with dementia still wants the love and support of their family and friends.”

Here are some ways you can help a caregiver:

  • Visit with both the caregiver and the person with dementia
  • Offer to do the grocery shopping
  • Go for a walk with the person with dementia
  • Take both the caregiver and the person with dementia out to dinner or a movie
  • Ask how the caregiver is doing
  • Call regularly
  • Relieve the caregiver so he/she can get a break
  • Connect the caregiver with organizations, such as the Alzheimer Society, that can provide information and support


Learning how to cope with grief

SusanGrief can happen at any stage of the dementia journey. It can begin the moment you see signs of dementia, at the time of diagnosis or as the disease progresses.

Caregivers can feel a sense of loss when a person with dementia is physically present, but not completely mentally or emotionally present in the same way they were. While grieving, caregivers can experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anger or even relief. Each person will experience grief differently.

Susan Gustafson’s husband, David, was diagnosed with Frontotemporal dementia in 2008 and passed away five years later at age 59. Despite her significant loss, Susan was able to work through her grief and make the best of her and David’s dementia journey.

“For me, the healthiest way to grieve has been to allow myself to grieve, but not focus on the loss. You can’t focus on the loss. You have to feel it, grieve it and then have the resilience to move forward,” says Susan.

At the time of David’s diagnosis, Susan was working as a school principal. Home Care supported David while Susan was at work. Susan spent her evenings and non-working hours making David’s care her main priority. Despite her and David’s loss of independence, Susan was able to embrace the changes.

“You have to ask, ‘What would be good for both of us?’ We would go out for walks or find other positive activities to do together,” says Susan.

As dementia progresses, a person loses various mental, physical and emotional abilities. To deal with these changes, caregivers should try to ‘hold things loosely’. That is, rather than trying to hang onto the things a person can no longer do, caregivers should learn to work with the things the person can do. At that point, caregivers can find ways to stay connected to the person with dementia as they are today.

“When David couldn’t play dominos properly anymore, we moved from matching the number of dots, to matching the colours on the blocks to just building with the blocks,” says Susan. “I did that because he still enjoyed playing dominos, we just had to find a way to adapt and play differently.”

There are many losses people experience throughout the dementia journey, such as the loss of a relationship and lifestyle or the loss of a companion at home as the person moves to a Long Term Care facility. When these changes occurred, Susan reached out to her family and the Alzheimer Society to receive help and learn how to cope with the changes.

If you have been looking after someone with dementia, you may feel a huge void in your life when the person loses their abilities or is gone. However, once you acknowledge and prepare for this change, grief will still impact you, but it won’t immobilize you.

“Loss can also give new life,” says Susan. “Since David’s passing, I’ve embraced new challenges, activities and experiences. The ‘firsts’ are emotional times, but in the end I knew I did everything I could to support David. You have to embrace your situation as a new challenge and then keep going.”

Click here to learn further ways to cope with grieving and loss.
Click here to learn ways to care for a person with dementia.


Supporting the Alzheimer Society through exercise and dance

Zumba pic from internetThroughout the year, people get creative and host fundraising events in support of the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. These third party events are big and small. No matter the size, the funds they raise help support valuable programs and services for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

Michelle Moir, an Occupational Therapy student at the University of Manitoba, recently hosted a Zumba fundraiser in support of the Alzheimer Society. At the beginning of her school semester, Michelle’s class received an assignment to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. To do this, Michelle and her student group came up with the idea to host a “Zumba for Alzheimer’s” fundraiser in support of the Alzheimer Society.

“We thought the best way to gain awareness would be to not only share information about the disease, but to raise money in a fun and active way,” says Michelle. “We chose to do a physical activity because we also wanted to communicate the link between your body and brain health.”

Your brain works better when you take care of your body. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and regular checkups by your doctor can help you stay healthy.

To get started, Michelle and her group met with the Alzheimer Society to learn more about the disease and the programs and services the Society provides for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. To support the Zumba fundraiser, the Alzheimer Society provided posters, brochures and donation boxes.

“The support of the Alzheimer Society made hosting the event a lot easier. We really appreciated the information and materials they provided,” says Michelle.

“Zumba for Alzheimer’s” was held on campus at the University of Manitoba this past November.

Throughout the hour-long event, Michelle and her group members would stop the Zumba exercise every 15 minutes to circulate donation boxes, talk about the link between exercise and brain health and share information about the Alzheimer Society. Close to 50 people participated in the Zumba exercise with around 100 passer-bys at any given time. The event successfully raised almost $180.00 in support of the Alzheimer Society.

“Hosting an event like this is definitely manageable,” says Michelle. “And it’s a fun way to raise money and spread awareness.”

The Alzheimer Society thanks Michelle and the other members who organized the event, including Megan Appleton, Katie Stooner, Zaklina Aguilar and Juan Monterrosa.

Click here to visit our fundraising page to learn how you can host your own event in support of the Alzheimer Society. For more information about hosting your own event, please contact Trudy Mattey at tmattey@alzheimer.mb.ca or call 204-943-6622.



Tax season tips

taxesAlthough it doesn’t seem like spring, one of its important deadlines has come all the same: tax time.  To help you with the process, we’ve assembled a basic list of tax benefits available for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The first step of your tax strategy is to procure the T2201 disability tax credit certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency website. This will entitle whoever has Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia to a tax credit. It must be filled out by a medical professional and filed as a hard copy during the first year of your claim. The document is also important for claiming other tax benefits for someone with a disability and those caring for them.

This credit, along with others mentioned below, is a non-refundable tax credit. Once such credits have reduced your taxes payable to zero, you won’t derive any benefits from them this year.  Some of these credits are transferable; any relative or spouse upon whom the person with Alzheimer’s disease is dependent can file these credits and reap those tax benefits.

There are two other important tax credits, but for caregivers rather than people with the disease: the eligible dependent and the caregiver credit. Both can be claimed as long as neither has been claimed by another person.  The caregiver credit was also increased by $2,000 in the 2012 federal budget, for family members in that role.

Claims against money spent can also be made. Many medical expenses are deducted as a non-refundable tax credit. These expenses must add up to 3% of total income or $2,100, whichever is less, in order for the person to qualify:

  • Payments to a medical doctor, dentist, nurse, or certain other medical professionals or to a public or licensed private hospital
  • Premiums paid to private health services plans
  • Premiums paid under a provincial or territorial prescription drug plan
  • Payments for artificial limbs, wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids, prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, dentures, pacemakers, prescription drugs, and certain prescription medical devices

Costs for the following attendant care are also included, such as:

  • Food preparation
  • Housekeeping services for a resident’s personal living space
  • Laundry services for a resident’s personal items
  • Healthcare (registered nurse, practical nurse, certified health care aide, personal support worker)
  • Activities (social programmer)

Travel expenses required for treatment may also be covered if the following conditions are met:

  • A medical service is not available nearby
  • If you had to travel at least 40 kilometres (one way) from your home, you may be able to claim the public transportation expenses you paid (taxis, bus, or train). If no public transit was readily available, you may be able to claim vehicle expenses
  • If you have travelled more than 80 kilometres, you may be able to claim accommodation, meal and parking expenses

It is important to note that this is just a guide; there is much more to filing a tax return than basic arithmetic. It is best to meet with a tax specialist to find an approach that will maximize your benefits and take a long-term view of your finances.

Source: http://alzheimersocietyblog.ca/2013/04/tax-tips/


Caregiving Tips

Caring for yourself

tipslogoCaregiving for someone with dementia can be physically and emotionally challenging. As the disease progresses, you may be required to provide emotional support, help the person complete everyday tasks and make legal and financial decisions that are new to you. At times, this may feel overwhelming.

It’s important for you to look after your own well-being so that you can assist the person you are caring for. You and the person you care for will benefit greatly when you invest time in your personal health and well-being.

Here are some suggestions you can do to care for yourself:

• Keep yourself physically healthy

  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Take time for exercise and physical activity
  • Get enough sleep
  • See your doctor regularly

• Maintain your emotional well-being

  • Identify and manage stressors that impact your body and your emotions
  • Be realistic – don’t be hard on yourself
  • Connect with family and friends
  • Join a support group
  • If emotional symptoms develop, seek professional health

• Take a break

  • Request respite care
  • Find time to relax and do something just for yourself!


Upcoming Education


Options in Community Living
Wednesday, April 16
7 pm – 8:30 pm
Meadowood Manor Personal Care Home
577 St. Anne’s Rd (map)
Click here for poster
Click here to register


Community Workshop
– I’m Still Here: A DVD Presentation on the Family and Social Implications of Dementia
– The Rising Tide of Dementia and Planning for the Future
Thursday, April 24
7 pm – 9 pm
Berney Theatre, Asper Jewish Community Campus
123 Doncaster St (map)
Click here for poster
Click here to register


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

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


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

Saturday, May 3 & Saturday, May 10 – Winnipeg
9 am – 2 pm
Hosted by Riverwood Square
1778 Pembina Highway (map)

Click here for poster
Click here to register

Upcoming Events

Memory Walk

MWThroughout 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 Winnipeg Walk takes place Thursday, June 12, 2014 at The Forks Scotiabank Stage!

Click here for more information
Click here to register online or call 204-943-6622.