Gary’s Story

My wife Brenda was diagnosed with dementia in 2015. In hindsight, there were likely indicators as far back as 2011 but at the time, “dementia” was foggy territory and a term I wasn’t familiar with.

After her diagnosis, Brenda’s doctor suggested I call the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. The Society’s First Link® Client Support program helped me understand more about dementia through their workshops and courses. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the disease so I could be the best caregiver for Brenda, someone she could always trust.

Attending a care partner support group is one of the best things I’ve done. The other care partners and I have a connection. We share, we talk freely and whatever we say stays there. I would encourage anyone who is navigating a dementia journey to find a support group, even if you get there and think it’s not for you stick with it and you’ll see how listening to others’ experiences with dementia will help you.

The Society also helped me be able to separate Brenda from her disease, which was a real eye-opener. For example, one day I found Brenda frying bacon on the stove without a pan and I panicked. I quickly realized that wasn’t the best reaction for me to have because it didn’t make Brenda feel very good. I now try to handle situations in a way that doesn’t cause Brenda to feel embarrassed, sad or annoyed. After all, it wasn’t Brenda who was doing these things, it was dementia.

Some days it feels like you step off a stair and other days like you step off a cliff. In all these situations, I call and talk to someone at the Society. It’s difficult to see someone displaying behaviours or attitudes that aren’t typical for them. The Society has helped me figure out how to care for and cope with dementia and still have a relationship with my wife.

What are some tips you would give to others experiencing dementia?

I have an acronym I’d like to share that helps me through the hard days.


S Simplicity: Keep it as simple as possible when caring for a person living with dementia.

A – Alzheimer Society: This is where you go for support. This is where you can ask for help.

F Faith: whether it’s spiritual faith or faith in yourself, rely on that.

E Education: Educate yourself on dementia. Attend workshops, conferences or other learning opportunities through the Alzheimer Society.

T Talk: Talk about it, tell others about what you’re going through. This way, people become more aware of dementia.

Y You/yourself: Take care of yourself. Respite can be very helpful, and your well-being is important too.


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