Spring 2019

John Ryan: Honouring people living with dementia through art

Last fall, Quebecois artist John Ryan found himself directing the brushstrokes of a retired farmer in the southern part of the province. The farmer, who lives with dementia, was helping Ryan with his latest project—a mural to honour the resilience and talents of those living with Alzheimer’s.

On his tour of Quebec’s 20 regional Alzheimer Societies, dozens of people with dementia contributed to the mural.

“Coming into this I had very little knowledge of what it’s like to live with this disease,” he says. “You don’t know what to say.”

Since then, Ryan’s discovered that it’s easy talking to people with dementia. When he met a woman who communicated by singing, Ryan told her that he likes to listen to music whenever he paints. “She just beamed at me,” he says. “You have these positive experiences no matter how severe the disease. There is a lot of person left. A lot of talent. A lot of good times. We just have to make the effort to be involved.”

The mural was on display in Montreal during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month this past January.

What does the Charter mean to Mario?

Mario Gregorio, living with vascular dementia

The Alzheimer Society, in partnership with an advisory group of people living with dementia, created the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia. Mario Gregorio, a member of the advisory group, shares what the Charter means to him.

After learning I have dementia, my dreams were crushed. In time, however, I learned that there is life after diagnosis. I decided to become an advocate to reduce the stigma and help others living with the disease.

If you’re a person with dementia, the Charter gives confidence that you’re not alone and reassurance that your country, health and social services, and your family and community are there to help.

To learn more about the Charter, please visit alzheimer.ca/Charter.

Monthly Donor Corner: "Why I give"

Sophia's mother, Maria

“My mother lived life with humour, wisdom and love, until Alzheimer’s took her in its vicious grip. I’m a monthly donor because more research is needed to find the causes and a cure. My monthly gift also supports vital programs and services for others facing the disease right now. If this cause is important to you, sign up today!” - Sophia S.

To become a monthly donor, use our secure online form or contact Dana at 1-800-616-8816 ext. 2951.

Speaking out

We asked people living with dementia to share their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say:

Since your diagnosis, what changes have you experienced?

  • “People consider you not as responsible as before.”
  • “I get treated like an outcast.”
  • “I am grateful for the small things now.”

How do you adapt to these changes?

  • “I write things down constantly and use my smartphone to record things.”
  • “I mark things off that are done, otherwise I get confused.”
  • “I’ve learned to let others help.”

What can the people around you do to help adapt to changes?

  • “They can help me remember things.”
  • “They can learn as much about the disease as possible.”
  • “They can support me in triggering my memory.”
Source: Insight - Fall 2018 - Alzheimer Society of British Columbia.

Meet the researchers: Lillian Hung

As dementia becomes more prevalent, hospitals are seeing a growing number of visits by people with these diseases.

Staying in the hospital can be frightening, and dementia often compounds that feeling. That’s why it’s so important that people living with dementia receive support from loved ones. But what if family members can’t be there?

In my study, family members use a tablet to record a short video message that reassures the person with dementia that they are safe. By hearing and seeing their family, the person will be more at ease and allow staff to help them. Once my study is complete, we hope to have useful evidence to support more dementia-friendly practices in hospitals.

Thank you for supporting innovative research like mine. To learn more about research projects funded by the Alzheimer Society, please visit alzheimer.ca/Research.

Your dollars at work: First Link®

First Link® is a referral program that helps newly diagnosed people with dementia get the support they need as soon as possible.

In the past, many families were told about the Alzheimer Society, but often didn’t call until a crisis occurred.

First Link® ensures individuals and families are connected directly to support services, information and education by their physicians, other healthcare providers and community services. This support for people in the early stages of dementia is important as it helps them plan for the future and develop understanding and resilience in facing dementia.

Learn more about First Link® at alzheimer.ca/FirstLink.

From our "Mail Bag"

Words of inspiration from our supporters:

“Cherish all the little moments. Keep the faith. You are not alone.”

“My mother died of Alzheimer’s in 1996. There is so much more support now available. Please take advantage of it.”

“Stay loving and be brave with the person that you have always loved. Remember all the good times…”

“…There are very difficult moments. We must give lots of love and understanding…and take care of them just as they’ve taken care of us.”

Get social: Tips for staying connected

Research shows that regularly interacting with others may help lessen your risk of developing dementia. Social activity also helps people with dementia continue to feel fulfilled, improving their quality of life.

Here are a few tips to help you stay social:

  • Accept invitations and extend a few of your own.
  • Make conversation when possible—chat with your taxi driver or a store clerk.
  • Help someone with a random act of kindness.
  • Talk on the phone or correspond via email.
  • Volunteer.
  • Combine social interaction with a physical activity like walking.

“After my diagnosis, I realized the healthiest thing for me was to live life to the fullest. I still love making greeting cards, collecting recipes, reading, and attending dances and events. Getting out and staying socialized is so important for people with dementia.” - Bea Kraayenhof, living with frontotemporal dementia

Consider leaving a charitable bequest to the Alzheimer Society

“I would urge anyone to think about putting something in their will...that really is meaningful to you in terms of a cause.” - Caroline, who’s included the Alzheimer Society in her will.

By remembering the Alzheimer Society of Canada in your will, you can make a lasting impact and support important research into Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Your own financial and legal advisor can help tailor your gift to suit your goals and personal circumstances. They can also advise you on how to maximize any tax advantages.

For more information please contact Dana Lecours 1-800-616-8816, ext. 2951 or dlecours@alzheimer.ca, or visit alzheimer.ca/GiftInYourWill.

RBC Wealth Management Estate & Trust Services are proud partners of the Alzheimer Society of Canada Planned Giving initiatives.