Family rallies to support caregivers, honour father at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k
Seven years ago, Sue Sami and her seven siblings, like many families of people living with dementia, determined that they wanted to keep their father out of residential care for as long as possible. With siblings each supporting their mother, his primary caregiver, on a different day of the week, it was a personal commitment they were able to uphold for the majority of his journey with Alzheimer’s disease. When he finally moved into a care home, they took shifts at his bedside to ensure he was never alone.
“We did it as a family, but we were lucky,” says Sue, whose maiden name is Nair. “Not everyone has siblings to help.”
On June 24, Sue and her family will be among walkers and runners providing vital support for other families affected by dementia through the Charity Challenge at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k. Since they connected last year, the Nairs have sprung into action to support the Alzheimer Society of B.C. Their volunteerism began when Sue, a financial coach at the time, met a client who mentioned participating in the 2016 Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s. “It was like everything froze around me,” Sue says. “I knew I had to get involved.” Two weeks later, 17 members of the family walked in honour of their patriarch.
“It brings the family together,” she says. “The embrace and the satisfaction that we get is priceless. Going there and seeing other families come together makes you feel like you’re in the right place.”
In addition to funding programs and services for current caregivers, the events, Sue says, also provide past caregivers with a sense of healing and help break down the stigma of dementia – stigma that is especially prevalent among South Asian communities.
“We’re a typical Indian family. We thought we could do this on our own, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for help."
Each $56 raised allows a caregiver to attend a two-hour dementia education session to better understand dementia and the road ahead. For $26 in donations, someone affected by dementia can gain knowledge and support through a First Link® Dementia Helpline call.
The full impact of their fundraising, however, is beyond measure. “It brings Dad home,” she says. “His memory is in our action, hopefully making life easier for other families.”
Show your support for families affected by dementia with your family, friends or co-workers by joining the Alzheimer Society of B.C. in the Charity Challenge at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k on June 24. Learn more at http://alzbc.org/Scotia-Half-5k.
Pictured above: Sue Sami and the Nair family at the 2017 Climb for Alzheimer's.