eNewsletter April 2015

In This Issue

Call for Board Members
Caregiver Recognition Day: Honouring the Unsung Heroes
Managing the Challenges of Long Distance Caregiving
I’m Still Me: Support Group Allows People with Dementia to be Themselves
Spotlight on Research: Healthy Lifestyle Linked to Cognitive Health Benefits
National Survey for Those who Work and Provide Care to an Elderly Relative
WRHA Seeks Applicants for Advisory Groups
Caregiving Tips: Assisting the Person with Dementia with Financial Matters
Upcoming Education
Upcoming Support Groups
Upcoming Events


We Want Your Feedback!

Prize for SurveyThe Alzheimer Society of Manitoba wants to continue providing you with relevant, educational and helpful information about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Please help us to do this by filling out a survey about this eNewsletter, which we currently offer online once a month. (Thank you to those who have already done so!)

It will only take a few minutes of your time, and if you choose, you can be entered into a draw for a prize.

Click here to access the survey. THANK YOU!


Call for Board Members

The Alzheimer Society is currently seeking board members. The application deadline is April 14, 2015.
Click here for further details.


Caregiver Recognition Day: Honouring the Unsung Heroes

CaregiverRecognitionCaring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia is a challenging and sometimes all-consuming endeavour. With dementia rates on the rise, an increasing number of people are taking on the role of caregiver. These individuals are unsung heroes, dedicating large portions of their lives to providing care. Tuesday, April 7th was Caregiver Recognition Day in Manitoba and we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all of the caregivers who work so hard each day.


Twenty-four Hour a Day Job

Tom Carberry of Dauphin knows all about the challenges of caregiving. His wife, Fran Carberry, is in the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Tom retired a year earlier than originally planned so he could take care of Fran full time. As the disease progressed, she eventually moved into a long-term care home in Dauphin.

Tom cautions that it can be hard to know when the act of caregiving becomes too much to handle. “You don’t really know how tired you are until you come out on the other side,” he says. “Caregiving is a 24-hour a day job.”

Maintaining the Momentum

While each situation is different, there are steps that all caregivers can take to help them manage their stress. Tom advocates that it’s important to find a caring community. “Caregiving can be isolating. Reach out to whomever you can, whether it’s friends or your local Alzheimer Society,” he advises.

In his quest to give his best as caregiver for Fran, Tom takes a proactive approach. He contacted the Alzheimer Society, leading him to actively participate in support groups and events (such as Memory Walk). He also helps the larger community by engaging in advocacy activities to fight for a better system for individuals and families affected by this devastating disease.

As a caregiver, Tom finds that taking time for himself helps him to give his best to Fran. Different people have different ways to recharge their batteries; for Tom, one way is volunteering as a cross-country ski trail groomer in the winter months. He finds it therapeutic and it gets him out to the bush, giving him time to decompress.

Most inspiring, though, are Tom’s daily visits with Fran – his favourite activity. “It’s uplifting to stay connected to her,” he says. “I feed her and take her for walks around the building. It’s clear that my wife is still there, she has a way of letting me know, like the way she arches her eyebrow or gives a look – the little things.”

Honouring Caregivers

Take a moment to recognize caregivers and honour them for their enduring efforts and unwavering support. If you know a caregiver, give them a call or offer to help in some way, even if it’s just to listen for a while. Caregivers make the lives of others better, and they deserve to be recognized with appreciation!


Managing the Challenges of Long Distance Caregiving

Dawna2Nowadays, many family members live at great distances from one another … a sister in Calgary, a brother in rural Manitoba, Mom and Dad in Winnipeg. When families are scattered geographically, things can become complicated when a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Suddenly, there is so much more to consider. Some may wonder how they will accomplish practical tasks, such as organizing family meetings, handling financial and legal considerations or navigating services from a distance. Many people are affected by the emotional challenges of long distance caregiving and struggle with feelings of guilt.

Manitoba native Dawna Friesen, Global National News Anchor and recent guest speaker at the Alzheimer Society’s Gala, is all too familiar with the challenges of long distance caregiving. Her mother, who has dementia, lives in a Winnipeg personal care home. Her father, who also had dementia, lived in the same personal care home until he died in October 2014. Dawna admits that at one point she looked into the possibility of moving her parents to Vancouver so they could be closer to her. She wanted to be more involved with their day to day care, but she soon realized that because of the progression of the disease, the move would not be in her parents’ best interest.

Reaching Out for Support

At first, support for her parents in Winnipeg was not easy for Dawna to find. She spent an exhausting period doing research on the internet trying to identify resources and eldercare services while juggling her responsibilities as a working mother. During this time, she flew back to Winnipeg often to piece together other paid services. The financial costs, not to mention the emotional ones, became taxing. Determined to find a better way, Dawna reached out to the Alzheimer Society.

“I wish I had known more about the Society earlier in my experience,” says Dawna, who was relieved to discover that the Society offers a wide variety of programs and services for people with dementia and their caregivers. She found the practical advice available to help her navigate her circumstances was invaluable.

Dawna learned that having help is fundamental to reducing the strain of long-distance caregiving. She knows that it’s important to work with others to ensure that her mother gets the best possible care. Her sister in New York, her brother and cousins in Winnipeg, and the staff at her mother’s care home are all a part of her mom’s care team. Dawna recognizes the importance of setting aside time for discussion to ensure that her mother’s care reflects what she would want if she could make decisions independently.

While there is no doubt that long-distance caregiving has its challenges, Dawna reflects on what helps her get through. “Besides chocolate?” she laughs, “I would pass on the advice that was passed on to me – don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not possible to do it all. Reach out for support.”


“I’m Still Me”:
Support Group Allows People with Dementia to be Themselves


Imagine this predicament…for a while you’ve noticed some troubling changes in your family member. Then you learn that the person has a life-altering diagnosis: dementia. Your first reaction is, “How can I help my family member?” This is where the Alzheimer Society comes in. The people there can guide your family on a journey of wellness.

As student co-leaders of the Support Group for People with Dementia offered by the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, we had the honour of witnessing this journey for the past 10 weeks. From our first encounter with the group’s 10 members, we were welcomed and treated like part of what they call “family.”

Although from different walks of life, the members feel a sense of oneness. They say they are a “real community” because they have a genuine understanding of each other. This is obvious by the respect shown to each other – patience and non-judgemental attitudes allow them to share stories, concerns and feelings.

Safe and Respectful

Group members agree that the accepting atmosphere of their group makes them unafraid to ask each other questions about “serious stuff,” and hence, they learn together. As one member aptly states: “It’s the best feeling…the freedom to let the conversation go wherever it may and still feel safe and respected.”

When asked how their diagnoses affected their lives, one member confessed, “I could hide under a blanket…instead I come here and realize I can do this.” Another member admitted that becoming a member of the group encouraged her to see herself as the “new me.” Others say that sometimes family and friends don’t see them as the same person, but their group family wholeheartedly accepts them as they are. One person added that they can be more open with the group than they can with their own family.

For all of these reasons, the group members anticipate and count down the days of the week to group day.

The Support Group for People with Dementia not only helps create a new family for its members, but it also gives their caregivers an opportunity to expand their support through their own chat circle. The caregivers look forward to group day for two reasons: first, they know they are bringing their family members to a happy and safe place; second, they are able to enjoy quality time with new friends. Caregivers agree that the Alzheimer Society has changed their negative perception of dementia to a positive journey of wellness.

Our experience as co-leaders of this group has allowed us to truly see that a diagnosis of dementia does not define the person. The group members’ positive outlook on life with dementia makes them unique individuals who are able to create a newfound sense of self. They understand the reality of their future, but today they live in the moment, fully appreciating the lives they have now.

Monica Carranza, 3rd yr. BScPN, Brandon University
Erika Hendrickson, 3rd yr. BScPN, Brandon University

If you or someone you know would be interested in attending a Support Group for People with Dementia, don’t hesitate to call the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba at 204-943-6622 or 1-800-378-6699.


Spotlight on Current Research:
Healthy Lifestyle Linked to Cognitive Health Benefits

Jenga gameThe clinical trial, Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER), is a multi-centre intervention study that aims to prevent cognitive impairment, dementia and disability in individuals between the ages of 60 and 77 who are at an increased risk for dementia. The interventions include nutritional guidance, exercise, cognitive training, increased social activity, and intensive monitoring and management of metabolic and vascular risk factors.

The study followed 1,260 seniors who were determined to be at risk for dementia. Participants were divided into two groups; one received regular health advice and the other received lifestyle interventions. After a two-year period, the group who received lifestyle intervention scored 25 percent higher in cognitive tests than those who received health advice alone. Other tests showing significantly better results among those who received the lifestyle interventions included executive function (complex aspects of thought, such as planning, judgment and problem-solving) and brain processing speed.

The researchers are planning to do a seven-year follow up to further assess any differences in long-term dementia risk.

The study indicates that it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by using a multi-domain intervention in older at-risk populations. Although long-term effects will be interesting to observe, the study outcomes point to the wisdom of making health and lifestyle modifications that have the ability to improve health and enhance thinking and reasoning abilities.

For more details, see related articles about the study:


Are You Working and Providing Care to an Elderly Relative?

If so, your help is needed. You can become involved in the National Survey on Balancing Work, Family & Caregiving. The results of this survey will increase awareness about the challenges faced by caregivers who are also maintaining a job and could help drive change at both the public policy and the employer level.
Click here for more information.


WRHA Seeks Applicants for Advisory Groups

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is looking for people to get engaged in several different advisory groups.
Click here for further details.


Caregiving Tips

tipslogoAssisting the Person with Dementia with Financial Matters

Some people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia may be able to continue to participate in their financial affairs following their diagnosis. Others may require immediate intervention and the guidance of an appointed power of attorney. In either situation, help from family and friends will benefit people with dementia as they make their financial plans. The sooner the planning begins, the more the person will be able to participate. Encourage the person to make and register a will and an enduring power of attorney if these documents are not already in place. If the documents have been prepared previously, it is wise for the person to review the content of the documents as needed.

A family member or friend acting as the power of attorney can assist the person with dementia in the following financial affairs:

  • Identifying and accessing possible sources of income and benefits.
  • Setting up an initial meeting with financial institutions or advisors to discuss options for financial management of:
    • personal purchases, bill payments and business matters e.g. direct deposit services
    • bank accounts
    • debit and credit cards
    • investments
    • real estate and personal property
  • Filing of the person’s income tax. Further assistance can be provided by an accountant or tax professional as needed.
  • Reviewing the person’s property, auto and life insurance coverage; speaking with an insurance broker to provide updated information.
  • Living costs and funeral costs, including looking into the cost of living in various housing options.

As caregivers, don’t forget to ensure proper management and care of your own financial affairs. Identify and access benefits that are available for you as a caregiver.

As you assist a person with dementia in caring for financial matters, make every effort to include the person in the process. Talk to them about what they would like to have happen. If the person is not able to tell you about their preferences, think about the things the person valued and their long held beliefs. The answers will help you make decisions that reflect what the person would want.

For information about financial documents and agencies to contact in Manitoba, please refer to:

Caring for Financial Matters – Alzheimer Society of Manitoba Fact Sheet



Upcoming Education

Minds in Motion® Program
This program combines physical activity, socialization and mental stimulation for people living with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease, or another dementia, to enjoy with a family member or community care partner.

Upcoming sessions:

Wednesdays, April 8 to May 27
2 to 4 pm
The Wellness Institute, 1075 Leila Avenue, Winnipeg (map)
Cost: $56 per participant pair.

Tuesdays, April 14 to June 2
1:30 to 3:30 pm
YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg, 5 Fermor Avenue, Winnipeg (map)
Cost: $56 per participant pair.

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

Living with Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias (Workshop)
Our one- and two-day workshops provide valuable information for those who are caring
for a person with dementia.

One-Day Workshop – Winkler
Saturday, April 11
9 am to 4 pm
Boundary Trails Health Centre, Junction Highway 3 and 14, Winkler (map)
Cost: $20. Includes lunch and resources.
Click here for more information.
To register, contact Kathy Fehr at alzsc@alzheimer.mb.ca or 204-325-5634.

One-Day Workshop – Brandon
Saturday, April 25
9 am to 4 pm
4th Floor Assiniboine Centre, 150 McTavish Avenue E., Brandon (map)
Cost: $10. Includes resources.
Click here for more information.
To register, contact Grace Loewen at wmprog@alzheimer.mb.ca or 204-729-8320 or Tanis Horkey at Centre for Geriatric Psychiatry at 204-578-4572.

Two-Day Workshop
Saturday, May 2 and 9
9 am to 2 pm
Riverwood Square, 1778 Pembina Highway, Winnipeg (map)
Click here to register or call 204-943-6622
Cost: $25 for both days. Includes resources and refreshments.


Family Education
The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba offers educational programs throughout the province to educate and empower people with dementia, their families and friends.

Informed Choices: Benefits and Risks with Dementia Medications
and Natural Products (bilingual presentation)

Thursday, April 9
7 to 8:30 pm
Residence Despins, 151 Rue Despins, Winnipeg (map)
Click here for more information call 204-943-6622.

Personal Care Homes:
What is my Role and What Remains my Responsibility?

Wednesday, May 13
7 to 8:30 pm
Meadowood Manor, 577 St. Anne’s Road, Winnipeg (map)
Click here to register or call 204-943-6622.

Surviving Ambiguous Loss and Grief:
Tips for Caregivers and Those That They Care For

Wednesday, June 17
7 to 8:30 pm
River Ridge Retirement Residence, 50 Ridgecrest Avenue, Winnipeg (map)
Click here to register or call 204-943-6622.


Upcoming Support Groups

Click here for information on Support Groups for People with Dementia

Click here for information on Support Groups for Family and Friends


Upcoming Events

Chili Cook Off

SONY DSCJoin us on Friday, April 10 for the 20th annual Chili Cook Off from 6 to 7:30 pm at Houstons Country Roadhouse in Brandon, Manitoba.

Chili Cook Off teams and individual competitors will showcase their chili in an attempt to win an award in several categories.

Diners enjoy a bowl of chili, a bun and a drink for $10.

New this year! If you can’t make it, support your friends and the event by making a donation online for a virtual bowl of chili! An award will be given for Top Team Fundraiser!

Click here to register.


Memory Walk
MWDuring 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, as well as the search for a cure.

The Winnipeg Memory Walk will take place Tuesday, June 9 at The Forks!

Click here for more information or to find a Walk in your area.
Click here to register online.