April 2016 eNewsletter

In This Issue

It’s Election Time! Don’t Get Tongue-tied – Talk to Your Candidates!
Watch this Video in Honour of Caregiver Recognition Day
Honouring Volunteers!
Assisting Someone With Dementia to Vote
Taking Care of Taxes: Don’t Miss Out on Caregiver Benefits!
Give the Gift of a Forget Me Not Keepsake
Spotlight on Current Research: Increasing Physical Activity can Increase Brain Volume
Caregiver Tips: Supporting a Person with Dementia who has Mobility Changes
Upcoming Education
Upcoming Support Groups
Upcoming Events


It’s Election Time!



This article is the third of a four-part series. Stay tuned to find out more about how you can help the Alzheimer Society bring forward important issues that will help better the care for people with dementia and their families.


We have asked the Liberal, NDP and PC parties to respond to the six questions that were to be asked at the 2016 Election Forum. All responses will be posted to our website on Friday, April 8. Click here to read the questions.

Don’t Get Tougue-tied: Talk to Your Candidates

As Election 2016 gets closer, candidates or their representatives may come to your door, call you on the telephone or invite you to a coffee time in your community.

They want to create name recognition and make an impression so you’ll vote for them. When they approach you, take the opportunity to speak up for the things that you believe are important. This is your chance to tell them why you think dementia care is an important election issue and ask questions about the policies they plan to implement. Here’s how:

Step One: Tell Your Story

If the cat has got your tongue and you’re not sure how to start the conversation, begin by telling the candidate about your relationship with a person who has dementia. This first step lets them know that your concern is not a passing fancy – it’s real.

Step Two: Relay Your Concerns

From there, you can move on to talk about your experiences with how the health care system has responded to the needs of the person with dementia. Consider also how the system has supported the family care partners. If you have concerns, express them.

Step Three: Ask Questions

At this point in the conversation, you can follow your personal story with questions. By asking questions, you are letting the candidate know that urgent attention is needed to address the issues you believe in.

Some questions that you might ask are:

The number of people who will have dementia is expected to almost double in the next 20 years. Does your party plan to build more personal care homes so those who need specialized care have ready access?

Today, most personal care homes look a lot like hospitals. Will your party commit to building personal care homes that are home-like . . . a place in which a person can take part in daily activity while feeling secure and cared for?

People with dementia want to be included in community activities. Will your party work with Age Friendly Manitoba and encourage them to incorporate dementia-friendly strategies into their community development template?

Have you heard of Minds in Motion®? This program offers opportunities for meaningful, inclusive and fun community involvement for people who are experiencing early to mid-stage dementia with their family or community care partner. Is your party willing to help the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba as they move the program into rural communities?­

Supportive housing is a good idea – it provides a safe living situation for people with dementia when they can’t live alone but don’t need the care that a personal care home provides. However, supportive housing is expensive and I am on a fixed income. Would your party increase the number of rent geared to income spaces so people like me could afford to use this service?

Caring for people with dementia is not easy. Does your party plan to place emphasis on dementia education for staff who work in home care and hospitals as well as personal care homes?

I care for a family member who has dementia. I appreciate the help I get through Home Care for my spouse, but I’m tired and wish I could get a break that is just for me. Could your party find a way for Home Care to consider my needs as well as those of my spouse?

You may have more or other questions that you wish to bring to the attention of those who are seeking your vote, and that is okay. What is important is that Manitobans do not let Election 2016 pass without bringing care of people with dementia to the forefront.

Don’t let the opportunity slip away! Click here for more information about the upcoming election and important dementia care issues.


A Moving Video:
In Honour of Caregiver Recognition Day

Today (Tuesday, April 5) is Caregiver Recognition Day. In honour of all the caregivers and the families who are facing the challenges of dementia, we ask you to take a moment to watch this short video. Two families at different stages of their dementia journeys shared their stories with us. Their hope is to help raise awareness about the disease and help build dementia-friendly communities.

Special thanks to Tannis, Norma, Gary and Judy for speaking so eloquently about their experiences.

The video premiered at the Dementia Care 2016 professional conference. Click here to view.


Honouring  Volunteers

National Volunteer Week is April 10 to 16. We are very proud of two individuals who we have come to know at the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, and we’d like to honour them here by telling their stories of their volunteer experiences. The first is Doug McLean, who has Alzheimer’s disease, yet doesn’t hesitate to give his time to help others and stay active. The second is Marilyn McCorrister, who is a regular and invaluable volunteer at the Alzheimer Society.


Doug McLeanAlzheimer’s Disease Doesn’t Stop This Volunteer

Fit and healthy in his late fifties, Doug McLean has energy to burn. He also has Alzheimer’s disease, but this diagnosis has not affected his desire to be busy and active.

That’s why this generous and energetic man decided to volunteer at the Transcona Congregate Meal Program. “It’s just great – three or four of us work together, and we have a blast while doing good things for people who need help,” says Doug.

The meal program takes place three times a week in a local church. It serves 80 to 100 meals per week to people requiring assistance to ensure they get well balanced, nutritious meals. Doug volunteers on Mondays for several hours; his job is prepping vegetables for the cook.

It’s an ideal situation for a man who loves being occupied and helpful, especially since the progression of his disease prevents him from working. “It’s difficult, but I can’t fix it. So I’ve decided to make ‘being busy’ part of my set criteria,” he says. “That’s how volunteering fits in: it gets me out there and keeps me socially and physically active.”

Doug’s wife Sandy is also grateful that he has found such a supportive environment in which to be a productive volunteer. “Doug wants to stay independent as long as possible, so we need to find situations where he can go on his own to actually contribute rather than be ‘programmed,’” she says. “At the congregate meals, the manager understands Doug’s situation and looks out for him.”

Doug attends a support group at the Alzheimer Society where, in his words, “birds of a feather can help each other.” This group helps to keep him independent as well.

The challenge for Doug is finding other similar activities in non-threatening environments that will allow him to contribute productively. Sorting out transportation also can be tricky. No longer driving, Doug has to rely on Sandy or Handi-Transit much of the time.

For as long as he can, Doug intends to keep volunteering. He wants to help out, and he wants to be an engaged member of his community. To maintain the active volunteer role he has found for himself, and to find other similar outlets for his energy, he and Sandy will keep looking for ways to overcome the challenges.


Marilyn 3x3Dedicated Volunteer Happy to Help Out

When Marilyn McCorrister walks through the front doors of the Alzheimer Society, she’s never exactly sure what the day will bring.

Marilyn has been a volunteer at the Society since April 2014. During that time, staff members have learned to rely on her office skills and her attention to detail. On one day, she may be tasked with amalgamating workshop evaluations, and on another she may find herself creating brain challenging games for the Minds in Motion® program.

“Volunteering at the Society gives me a sense of purpose,” says Marilyn, who retired from a government job about nine months before answering the ad for a volunteer position. “It’s flexible and there’s a lot of variety in the work. I do things like update stats, fold receipts and count brochures. I put together packages for conferences, and I help to prepare for special events.”

The need to keep busy was a main factor in Marilyn’s decision to seek a volunteer position. “I’d always led a busy life, and it didn’t occur to me that I’d get bored after I retired. But the winter of 2014 was a hard one – I was stuck inside with nothing to do, and I went stir crazy,” she recalls.

With the idea that retirement shouldn’t mean the end of meaningful activity, Marilyn was motivated to find a good fit in a volunteer position, and the Alzheimer Society position met her expectations. The position also gives her a chance to learn more about dementia; some of her family members have had it, as well as her mother-in-law.

What does she like best about volunteering at the Society? Marilyn is quick to answer: “The friendliness of the staff, the fact that I’m helping others, and the sense of purpose it gives me.”

The Alzheimer Society looks forward to many more years of Marilyn’s contributions and dedicated efforts. One day at a time, she is helping to make the world a better place for people with dementia and their families.


Ways to Volunteer at the Alzheimer Society

The generosity of these two individuals show that people can give back to their communities in different ways. At the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, volunteers demonstrate remarkable commitment and dedication to the cause of assisting people with dementia and their families. Here are a few of the many ways that individuals can volunteer at the Society:

  • assist with office responsibilities
  • coordinate a team for Walk for Alzheimer’s in June
  • help to facilitate Minds in Motion® program sessions
  • organize a third party event in support of the Society
  • host a Coffee Break® event in September or October

Click here for more information and to apply to be a volunteer at the Society.

Another way you can help the Society is by making a donation. Click here for more information. Thank you!


Assisting Someone with Dementia to Vote

3 votersAs dementia progresses, voting may become increasingly difficult or impossible. People may have difficulties understanding the nature of the election, obtaining information about the candidates and remembering where and when to vote. The choice is left to you as a caregiver or family member to determine the person’s capability to formulate a voting decision. It is an individual and personal decision that only you can make. Consider the following points to guide you through your decision making:

  • Was the person politically active in the past? Was voting important to the person?
  • Can the person explain their opinion in a way that exhibits an understanding and comprehension of the question and decision?
  • Has the person expressed a desire to vote?

While assisting the person to vote, consider using these tips in the process:

  • Request to have a mail-in ballot so the person can take time and fill out the ballot in a comfortable, familiar place.
  • Ask the person one or two questions at a time, so as not to overwhelm them.
  • Explain questions and ask for the person’s decision multiple times. For example, ask the same question several times in a week to see if you get the same answer. Some physician’s use this technique when asking about medical decisions; they find that the person almost always answers a question the same way. They do so even when they can’t remember their original answer or can’t remember ever being asked the question.
  • Be supportive but avoid helping out too much with filling out the ballot.

Click here for more information on voting and accessibility. This information may be of value in assisting someone with dementia to vote.


Taking Care of Taxes: Don’t Miss Out on Caregiver Benefits!

TaxesOnce again, tax season is upon us. Caring for someone with dementia can affect your tax return in a variety of ways. We suggest you take the time to research and learn how to take advantage of caregiver credits, deductions and exemptions that you and your family qualify for. 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.

This general income and benefits guide will help you complete your 2015 tax return. Click here to view.


Here is an example of one benefit available for caregivers in Manitoba:

Primary Caregiver Tax Credit

This credit recognizes the vital support caregivers provide to those needing care. Manitoba’s Primary Caregiver Tax Credit provides a refundable credit of up to $1,400 a year to people who act as primary caregivers for spouses, relatives, neighbours or friends who live at home in Manitoba. For this tax credit, people requiring care must be assessed at Level 2 or higher under the Manitoba Home Care Program guidelines. They are assessed based on the amount and type of care required for tasks like bathing, dressing, eating meals, mobility and receiving medical care. Level 1 requires minimal care in most cases and is not eligible.

This credit is refundable and not income tested. This means you can claim it even if you do not have taxable income. The credit may defray your caregiver expenses, such as shopping, transport, outings and respite.

Click here for a link to more information on the primary caregiver tax credit.


Give the Gift of a Forget Me Not Keepsake

KeepsakesGive a gift to a family or friend while helping the Alzheimer Society at the same time! Awards & More Promotions has an assortment of items available for you to purchase, and each one is inscribed with our beautiful Forget Me Not logo. Some items can be personalized in memory or in honour of a special person in your life. Choose from a two-piece slate coaster set, a 4 x 6 aluminum photo frame, a table top flip album, a decorative etched glass vase, a royal blue cozy fleece blanket, a silver plated serving tray and a porcelain star ornament. Prices range from $10 to $30, with net proceeds supporting the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. Click here for information and to make a purchase.


Spotlight on Current Research

couple walkingIncreasing Physical Activity can Help Improve Brain Volume

Results of a research study conducted by investigators at UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh show that various types of aerobic physical activity can improve brain structure and reduce Alzheimer’s risk.

The study included 876 participants, with an average age of 78, who are all part of the 30-year Cardiovascular Health Study being conducted across four research sites in the United States. Data analyzed included participants’ physical activity habits, cognitive assessment and MRI scans of the brain. Physical activity was quantified using caloric expenditure as a proxy marker. The activities involved were swimming, hiking, aerobics, jogging, tennis, racquetball, walking, gardening, mowing, raking, golfing, bicycling, dancing, calisthenics and riding an exercise cycle. Cognitive assessments were facilitated to distinguish participants as having normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. MRI scans of the brain measured the volume of brain structures, including those implicated in memory and Alzheimer’s, such as the hippocampus.

The results of the analysis showed that higher energy output through a variety of physical activities was correlated with larger brain volumes in frontal, temporal and parietal lobes, as well as hippocampus, thalamus and basal ganglia – areas of the brain vital to cognitive functioning. Individuals experiencing this brain benefit from their increased physical activity experienced a 50 percent reduction in their risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. For the roughly 25 percent of the study participants who had mild cognitive impairment, increasing physical activity also benefitted their brain volumes. The correlation was evident regardless of cognitive status. High levels of caloric expenditure also moderated the volume loss of certain brain structures that are usually associated with neurodegeneration.

Physical activity tends to decline with age and often with diagnosis and progression of dementia. This study adds to the evidence of the significance of physical activity and suggests that being physically active – and, if possible, increasing one’s level of physical activity – is an important lifestyle strategy that can help maintain or improve brain volume crucial for cognitive function.

Click here for for more information about this study.


Supporting a Person with Dementia who has Mobility Changes

tipslogoThere are many reasons why a person with dementia experiences a change or loss of mobility. In any situation, it is important to continue encouraging the person to stay active to the best of their abilities. When doing so, it is helpful to know what factors can affect mobility, what can help ease the pain or discomfort and what steps to take to assist the person to remain active and mobile.

Considerations in the following areas can help keep the person comfortable and as active as possible while remaining safe:

Environmental Adaptation
Sloping floors, changes in floor patterns, cluttered areas and varied lighting can cause difficulties. The person may feel that they are losing balance or be afraid of slipping or tripping over something, which in turn could result in decreased mobility.

  • Install railings along stairwells, in the bathtub and beside the toilet. This can increase their sense of security and independence by allowing them to change position with minimal or no assistance.
  • Keep walking paths clear and well lit.

Assistive Devices
Consider getting a walking aid, such as a cane or walker, or a wheelchair if they have problems getting around on their own.

Involve the person in some form of exercise, taking into consideration any physical limitations. Low impact exercise, water aerobics, stretching and other movements that improve mobility and range of motion are suggested; consult with the person’s doctor before starting any exercise program.

Social Engagement
Avoid isolation by engaging the person in social activities; invite families and friends to come over and spend time with the person if he or she is unable to go out or travel. Encourage families to sit and chat with the person during gatherings, and eat meals at the table with the person rather than everyone scattering throughout the house.

Treatment of Coexisting Conditions
Does the person have arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, bunions/corns/callouses or ingrown toenails? These conditions may cause pain, discomfort, tingling sensations or numbness that will affect walking. Is the person experiencing shortness of breath when mobile because of certain chest conditions? Is the person taking medication/s that cause drowsiness and imbalance, thus limiting mobility? Consult the doctor if any of these affect the person and ask what treatment options might help to minimize their effects on the person’s day to day activities, including mobility.

Family and friend care partners can minimize the impact of mobility changes on the quality of life of the person with dementia. It just takes some thoughtful planning, creativity and consultation with the person and their health care providers.


Upcoming Education


Telehealth Family Education
The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba offers family education for those experiencing dementia in over
40 communities across the province via video technology. The following topic will be presented in April:

Becoming a Resilient Caregiver
Tuesday, April 5, 6:30 to 8 pm
Click here for information on Telehealth.
Click here to register for this Telehealth session.

Family Education: Next Steps
Learn new skills that will help you face the daily realities of living with and caring for a person
with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia through these informative sessions.

Advance Care Planning: It’s for Everyone!
Come and talk about end of life care and learn about advanced care planning and
health care directives.
Wednesday, April 13, 7 to 8:30 pm
Amber Meadow, 320 Pipeline Rd., Winnipeg (map)
Click here for more information and to register.

Transitioning to Long Term Care
Wednesday, May 18, 7 to 8:30 pm
Park Manor Personal Care Home, 301 Redonda St., Winnipeg (map)
Click here for more information and to register.

Understanding Psychoses and Anxiety in Dementia
Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia may include hallucinations, delusions, psychosis and anxiety. Gain an understanding of how these changes may manifest in a person with dementia and be informed of strategies in our approaches to these changes.
Thursday, June 16, 7 to 8:30 pm
Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre, 1588 Main St., Winnipeg (map)
Click here for more information and to register.

Minds in Motion® Program
Spring sessions of the eight-week Minds in Motion® program will soon begin at six Winnipeg locations and in Gimli. This popular program combines physical activity, socialization and mental stimulation for people living with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease, or other dementias, to enjoy with a family member or community care partner.
Click here for information or call the location closest to you find out about spring sessions.

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

Saturdays, May 7 and 14, 9 am to 2 pm
Riverwood Square, 1778 Pembina Hwy. (map)
Cost: $25 for both days. Includes lunch, resources and refreshments.
Click here to register online.

Saturday, May 7, 9 am to 4 pm
4th Floor Assiniboine Centre, 150 McTavish Ave. E., Brandon (map)
Cost: $10. Resources, coffee and refreshments are provided.
To register, contact Julie Hockley at wmprog@alzheimer.mb.ca or 204-729-8320 or Tanis Horkey at 204-578-4572.

Upcoming Support Groups

Check with your group facilitator or the regional office nearest you to learn more about the date and time of the next group meeting. The Alzheimer Society’s family support staff are here to help – contact us at alzmb@alzheimer.mb.ca, 204-943-6622 (in Winnipeg) or 1-800-378-6699 (in Manitoba).

Click here for information on Support Groups for People with Dementia

Click here for information on Support Groups for Family and Friends


Upcoming Events

Walk Ad

Walk for Alzheimer’s is Canada’s biggest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. By walking in Winnipeg on Tuesday, June 14 or at one of the many Walks taking place all over Manitoba during June, you will support work right here in Manitoba to help people with dementia to live well.
Click here to register your team.
Click here for a calendar showing the location and dates of Walks in Manitoba.