During the Walk for Memories on Sunday, which attracted over 100 Kootenay residents and raised $14,000, local organizer Simon Grypma was approached by a family that had just learned of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
“I was approached by a local family with a member in the early onset stages. They were dealing with a family member who had just been diagnosed, and I was very touched to realize that as we lose one person with Alzheimer’s, someone else takes their place,” he said.
Grypma lost his own father to the disease, but he said the awareness that has been raised by the event means families will no longer have to suffer in isolation.
“It’s not going to stop, that’s what hit home for me. We lost Margo (Read) but the cycle of Alzheimer’s is going to continue, and it’s so vital our communities became a part of it, to help the people who are afflicted with this horrible disease.”
The event was dedicated to the memory of Margo, whose husband Bob was in attendance and made a speech.
Grypma said it was an emotionally potent moment.
“Their walk through Alzheimer’s and the ultimate end of her life, the story was very touching.”
Grypma also appreciated the comments from Mayor Deb Kozak and from Nelsonite Barb Hughes.
Currently there are 70,000 people in BC with Alzheimer’s, 72 per cent of whom are women.
“We need to stand by our fellow citizens,” said Grympa.
He said all the money raised will remain in the West Kootenays.
“Contacts have been made for people in the beginning process, and the money and funds raised stay locally here in the West Kootenay. The money will go to fund education programs run by Julie Leffelaar.”
“Funds raised help ensure people with dementia and their caregivers have access to information, support services and education. They also bring us one step closer to finding a cure,” said Leffelaar.
Grypma said the advice he provided to the local family came from hard experience. When asked what he told them, he was effusive.
“You’re not alone. You don’t have to deal with this issue on your own. It’s not an embarrassing issue or something to hide from. We’re a
ll here for you.”
He said the event will be back “bigger and better next year”, and asked anyone in Nelson interest in getting involved to contact him personally.
For those looking for support or to take advantage of the services available to support those with Alzheimer’s and their families, contact Leffelaar at 250-365-6769 or 1-855-301-6742 or email@example.com.
She can be contacted at 250-365-6769 (toll-free 1-855-301-6742) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 Warning Signs:
Here are 10 warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, provided by the Alzheimer Society of B.C.:
1. Memory loss that affects day-to-day abilities
Forgetting things often or struggling to retain new information.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Forgetting how to do something you’ve been doing your whole life, such as preparing a meal or getting dressed
3. Problems with language
Forgetting words or substituting words that don’t fit the context.
4. Disorientation in time and space
Not knowing what day of the week it is or getting lost in a familiar place.
5. Impaired judgment
Not recognizing a medical problem that needs attention or wearing light clothing on a cold day.
6. Problems with abstract thinking
Having difficulty balancing a cheque book, for example, or not understanding what numbers are and how they are used.
7. Misplacing things
Putting things in strange places, like a dress in the refrigerator or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
8. Changes in mood and behaviour
Exhibiting severe mood swings from being easy-going to quick-tempered.
9. Changes in personality
Behaving out of character, such as becoming confused, suspicious, or fearful.
10. Loss of initiative
Losing interest in friends, family and favourite activities.
For more information, visit www.alzheimerbc.org.