In a conversation with a person you have just met, it is common to ask the individual what she does for a living. I find this question to be awkward. What should I say? I'm sick – I don't work? I have dementia – I don't work? I am disabled – I don't work? None of your business? I'm sure you can see my dilemma. I ask myself, why do I find the question awkward? The reason is because I have been raised with the Protestant Work ethic. From a young age, I was taught that it was important to work and it gave me a sense of pride. Today, because I have Frontotemporal Lobe Dementia (FTD) I do not work and therefore, the feeling of pride has left me. My first job was that of a T.V. Guide delivery girl. I was probably about 9 years old. I had a little white shoulder bag with the books in it. I would hike up and down our street and give people their guides. This job has obviously gone the way of the dinosaur!But, I'll always remember the source of pride it gave me and the feeling of the jingling coins in my pocket.
The need for helpful and accurate information on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias has never been greater. Technological development over the last couple of decades, specifically the internet and the devices that can easily access the web has given us volumes of information, literally at our fingertips.
I come from a line of proud Scottish gardeners. I am told that my Great Grandfather was an estate gardener at Ardclach, Nainshire Scotland in 1902. As far back as my memories take me, I can always remember my parents working the soil producing beautiful flowers and vegetables. My father always tried to grow roses with varied success. He liked to present my Mom with a rose showing his love for her. How sweet is that? My parents have not put in a garden for the last few years. Although, they did have a few plants on their balcony. Just enough to get their hands dirty; and have something to show-off and talk about. When they downsized, I had the good fortune to obtain my fathers long gardening shovel. I don't know how old it is, but it was his favourite. It has moved a lot of earth in its time!
Well-known teacher and choral director Ken Fleet and his family have been named the Honouree Family for the 2015 Walk For Alzheimer’s. As the largest fundraising event for the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex, the Walk raises money to support programs and services delivered at no cost to people living with dementia.
This past May, Dawn and I began our search for finding three possible long-term care facilities for me.To remind you, it is our hope that I will always remain at home, so this is putting a “plan b” together – just in case. It is discouraging in that I have yet to hear of anyone who has later stage Frontotemporal Lobe Dementia (FTD), live at home until the end. In particular, bvFTD, the kind I have, it is very difficult for the carer to manage the challenging symptoms and possible aggressiveness. CCAC is waiting for me to return the paperwork listing up to three facilities. Due to some facilities that have up to a five year waiting list, it is important I submit my paperwork in a timely fashion. That basically means – now. As we drove to my second long-term care facility, I tried to be positive. The first facility we toured had an incredible urine stench in its one hallway. I tried to push that memory way back in my brain. I know they can't all be like that.
The value of volunteerism is never more clearly seen than at our office. With almost 1200 active clients (2013-14 stats) who participate in the 30 programs delivered by the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex at no cost, we could not provide the level of service to our community without the dedicated work of our volunteers. From secondary and post-secondary students all the way to senior citizens, the work of our volunteers is not only invaluable but inspiring. To each and every one of them - we say, thank you!
When you have Frontotemporal Lobe Dementia (FTD) like me, you can expect to experience different symptoms. Some symptoms never leave and others may go as quickly as they come. Some examples of symptoms which I have experienced/experiencing are: ➢ Impulsive ➢ Lack of empathy ➢ Poor judgement ➢ Impatience and aggression ➢ Withdraw of interest in activities ➢ Trouble finding the right word ➢ Easily distracted ➢ Memory loss ➢ Lack of attention to personal hygiene ➢ Muscle spasms ➢ Drinking to excess ➢ Swallowing problems ➢ Abrupt mood changes
For most of my life, I have been a “cat person.” I have had many beautiful cats that have entertained me with their personalities. My all time favourite was a Main Coon named “Jack.” Jack the Cat was rescued by my friend Marie. He was in terrible shape due from being out in the cold winter, lack of food, water and warmth. After a visit to the vet, Marie and Theresa brought him to my home. When he was let out of his cat carrier, I almost fell over looking at the sight of the most ugliest cat I had ever seen. The vet had to shave him right down because of his matted fur. We laughed at this craziest looking cat. Another friend, Linda, coined the name: Jack. This is a short-form for the cat “hitting the jackpot” on living with me. Eventually, he turned into a beautiful big boy of 20lbs.
January is Alzheimer Awareness Month in Canada and that means a number of media and awareness initiatives that you may (hopefully) have experienced in the news. If you haven’t, you’ve missed the main message of this year’s campaign and that message is an important one as it relates to the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on women. If you’ve already seen this information through whatever information source you use, I think the message is significant enough to have you examine and digest it again.
Last week, the Waterloo Wellington Dementia Network hosted a very successful one-day educational event for professional care partners. The focus was the importance of developing good rapport and caring relationships with those that the health professional supports in particular persons with dementia. Two speakers of the event included Mr. Bob Kallonen, Chief Operating Officer of Schlegel Villages, and Dr. Elaine Weirsma, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Health Sciences, and Advisor, Interdisciplinary Certificate in Dementia Studies, Lakehead University. Their goal was to challenge the approximately 110 participants to enhance relationships between all carers.