Important voices in the dementia conversation: Jim Mann
2016 marks the 35th Anniversary of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. As we celebrate throughout the year, we’ll be featuring interviews with important voices in the conversation around Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – people with dementia, caregivers, volunteers, donors and sponsors – who have worked with the Society to support the 70,000 British Columbians affected by the disease.
For July, we’re featuring Jim Mann, a member of the B.C. Dementia-Friendly Communities Initiative Leadership Group of People with Dementia and a long-time advocate for people living with the disease. We interviewed Jim about his experience with the Alzheimer Society of B.C.
How did you first connect with the Alzheimer Society of B.C.?
My very first contact with the Society was to obtain brochures on Alzheimer's disease during the early 2000s, because my mother had dementia. My wife Alice and I needed helpful information. For myself, I contacted the Society in mid-2007, a few months after my own diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, to investigate ways to volunteer. And in the fall of that year I attended my first of many events, a Public Policy Workshop put on by Barbara Lindsay – now the Director of Advocacy & Education.
Is there something that stands out for you in your time with the Society that has meaning for you?
Many things, actually. I was honoured to be a board member for a full six-year term, which afforded me the opportunity to advocate for people living with dementia at the policy table. This position gave me the platform to raise issues, to influence decisions, and to reinforce my belief that the meaningful engagement of people living with dementia is indeed possible.
Over these many years I have been involved with the Society, I have been an active advocate at their side addressing the members of the B.C. Legislature, the Select Standing Committee of Finance, and as the face of the Jim’s Push for a Plan campaign launched in 2012. And in 2012 I was proud to be the recipient of the Clyde and Lanny Slade Leadership Award.
What keeps you connected with the Society?
The people. My support group. The wide variety of excellent brochures and up-to-date information on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, how to prepare for the journey, et cetera.
What do you hope the next 35 years will bring for dementia awareness?
Awareness that people diagnosed with dementia can live a full and productive life. That the stigma of dementia is no longer an issue and there is no stereotype in people’s minds of a person diagnosed with dementia.
What would you tell others about dementia or the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C.?
To approach the Society for information and for support. To offer to volunteer with the Society in any way that fits.
And what I would tell others about dementia? That you are not lost as a person. That the disease doesn’t rob you of you. That you are very much #StillHere, and there is life after a diagnosis of dementia. And it’s that last sentence that I emphasize and hope people take to heart.