#initforalz – Six Personal Stories

asc-awareness-web-p4-707x264-va1-with-pay-buttonMore than 22,000 Manitobans have dementia. But dementia is more than just numbers, it’s our friends and neighbours, people we see every day in our community – like Gary Quinton, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Gary had a lifetime teaching career and the support from his friends who taught with him help him keep active. They meet every week to go for coffee or bike rides and these outings keep him in touch with other people and get him out in the community. They are #initforalz, are you?

Unveiling Six Personal Stories

These six individuals have come across dementia in some way: two have been diagnosed with the disease, two are caregivers, one is a volunteer and one is involved in developing an organization that is dementia friendly. Find out why they are #initforalz.

Cam Young – Dementia Friendly Community
Viv Rees – Husband and Caregiver
Luc Lemoine – Diagnosed with Pick’s Disease
Mickey Wener – Daughter, Caregiver and Minds in Motion® Volunteer
Terry Cousins – Husband and Caregiver
Tim Oldham – Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease


#initforalz: Becoming a Dementia Friendly Organization with Cam Young

cam-edited-web-and-social-media-profileAs the Centre Manager of the Elmwood-Kildonan YMCA-YWCA, I strongly believe in making our organization dementia friendly by creating an inclusive environment with no barriers or limitations. This is especially important for seniors and for those with dementia.

One activity that has proven to be successful is the Minds in Motion® program, which is available for people with early to moderate dementia to attend with a family member or community friend. Every Thursday between 1 and 3 pm, participants get active – physically, mentally and socially. We run this program in our facility in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba and hope to strengthen our relationship with them by developing and expanding our programming for those living with this disease.

In addition to creating an organization and community that is more dementia friendly, we also want to be at the forefront of dementia awareness by providing dementia education for our employees. That includes everyone from front-line staff to the managers and directors. Within a year, I hope to have all 500 members of our staff trained so they are better equipped to create a positive and inclusive environment.

That’s what being dementia friendly is all about.

Click here to learn more about Cam in our eNews article.


#initforalz: Sharing Cinnamon Buns and Ideas with Viv Rees

viv-and-sheila-reesEvery Thursday morning I drive my wife, Sheila – who has vascular dementia – to her support group at the Alzheimer Society. I have about an hour and a half to wait, but as it turns out, so do the other caregivers in Sheila’s group. Gravity and caffeine took us to the café downstairs, and hence an informal but valuable support group of our own was born.

Our group of caregivers share more than cinnamon buns and cups of coffee. We all help each other by contributing our thoughts, ideas and coping mechanisms, and sometimes we just sit and chat about whatever comes to mind.

We all know that dementia is not a stigma to be ridiculed; it’s something to be accepted and embraced by everyone because it touches our lives whether we like it or not. That’s why my friends in this group all make an effort to let others know what we are about. We want people to realize that in the midst of our society, there is a disease that needs to be acknowledged – not only by the people who walk our streets and interact with us, but also by every level of government.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the friendship, camaraderie and support I receive from this group of caregivers. We are all in it for Alzheimer’s!

Click here to learn more about Viv in our eNews article.

 #initforalz: Keeping Mind and Body Active with Luc Lemoine

luc-lemoine I have Pick’s disease, but it hasn’t prevented me from sharing my experiences, challenges and strengths with others. I have done this for the past three years at my weekly support group for people with dementia at the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. There, I interact with others who are also living with dementia.

Before joining my group, the disease felt like a big black cloud hanging over my head. But the people in my group opened me up to realizing that dementia isn’t as bad as people think.

If you keep your mind and body active, it’s possible to live well independently.

To stay physically and mentally active throughout the seasons, I read four books a week, play cards with neighbours and cook in my apartment in my assisted living complex. When I go to visit my wife, Diane, in our family home, I spend time gardening and working with stained glass in my workshop.

I also love to snowshoe, hike and walk through the beautiful trail behind the complex where I live, which is conveniently close to church and the post office.

I’ve always believed in making the best of what you have, and now I live by that motto. I’ve turned a difficult situation into a manageable one, and I continue to live independently and contently.


 #initforalz: Giving Back to the Community with Mickey Wener

mickey-wener-mim-volunteer-small After my dad passed away from Alzheimer’s disease I wanted to find a way to actively support others with dementia. I came across Minds in Motion®, a program offered by the Alzheimer Society that brings people with dementia and their care partners out into the community. It looked like the perfect place to volunteer my time.

I felt comfortable right from the beginning. The program leadership and orientation was top notch, providing information about the different forms of dementia and insight as to what I could anticipate as a volunteer. Living through the disease with my dad has helped me to prepare for this role – I already knew too well how this disease unfolds.

As volunteers, we are together with the participants for eight weeks and get to know each other quite well. While exercising, socializing and playing games with both the people with dementia and the care partners, we treat everyone as equals – we don’t label or treat those with dementia as being “different.”

I enjoy a special kind of satisfaction helping the participants have a fun, uplifting and supportive experience. I would have loved it if something similar had been available for my dad.

I am fortunate to have found a way to give back to the community that is so personally meaningful and rewarding to me. It warms my heart to be part of this program.


#initforalz: Supporting Those on the Caregiver Journey with Terry Cousins

terry-cousins-smallMy late wife, Kath, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1999. At the time, I needed help to figure out what to do next, so I began doing some research. That’s when I found the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, and so began my involvement with this wonderful organization.

Something that really helped me were the Society’s support groups for caregivers. Being involved in a group was a great way to cope with and discuss the challenges of the caregiver journey – it gave me the opportunity to learn from the situations of others. I realized I was not alone.

Because they helped me when I needed it most, I decided to give back by lending a hand facilitating support groups. I’ve also assisted in community education programs like the Living with Alzheimer’s Disease workshop, and I volunteer in as many of the Society’s events as I can.

I’d advise everyone to keep an eye out for the chance to learn about dementia. For example, I once worked in the maintenance department in a personal care home, and in retrospect, that experience helped me to prepare for my caregiving role with Kath. Even though I was not directly involved in the care of patients in that job, I developed empathy and a general knowledge about the effects of the disease.

The more understanding we have about people living with dementia, the more able we’ll be to give them and their family members the care, respect and help they deserve.


#initforalz: Singing Happy Songs with Tim Oldham

tim-oldham-small I’m familiar with the community of Selkirk and I feel safe and welcome there. People are accepting – they understand that sometimes it takes a minute for me to organize my words, and nobody interrupts me. Everyone is respectful and there’s no judgement.

My wife, Glenda, and I plan to move to this community from our home on an acreage near Lockport. I’m happy about that because I’m involved in a number of activities there, and everyone welcomes me.

For example, I participate in both a floor curling and a bowling league. The people on my teams know me and they know my circumstances. They help me to pick up the right rock, and someone fills out my bowling score card.

It’s the same with my choir, “The Back Pew Boys,” and with the people in my coffee club at Selkirk United Church. When I’m with these groups, I feel included and accepted.

Before retiring, I worked for many years as area manager for Home Hardware, and in later years I was a salesman in the local building centre. I met a lot of people while working there, and many people still recognize me and are friendly. When we move to Selkirk, I’ll be able to walk and bike in the community and I’ll have freedom do to some things on my own because people will be watching out for me.

Click here to learn more about Tim in our eNews article.