Meet our Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer's Vernon honourees: Gord and Colleen French
When people living with dementia are first diagnosed, they often feel their peers pulling away – which only adds to a sense of isolation they may already feel. When Colleen and Gord French began their dementia journey, they experienced the opposite.
“In a lot of the dementia support groups, we hear about friends drifting away because of the stigma, but ours are very supportive,” says Gord French, caregiver to his wife Colleen, who lives with dementia.
Since Colleen’s diagnosis a year and a half ago, the life-long Vernon couple’s close network in the city has continued to reach out and make coffee dates as they always have. While their support network has remained, the Frenches’ routines have changed. Colleen, a devoted volunteer and talented artist, has shifted her focus away from her work for the Red Cross and hospital auxiliary, as well as her painting, quilting and drawing projects. She prefers spending more quiet time at home immersed in a good book. After a lifetime together, Gord and Colleen find themselves reestablishing domestic roles.
“She does not want to cook anymore and it’s working out,” Gord says. “It’s working out because I’m learning to do things that I’ve never done before.”
The Frenches’ greatest moments have long been born from firsts they experienced together, whether raising their two daughters, and later becoming grandparents, running a British sports car repair shop or travelling to new destinations on motorhome and sailing adventures. They now take part in Minds in Motion®, the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s fitness and social program. Gord also attends a caregiver support group.
“What I’ve taught myself is patience,” he says. “Don’t assume that the person living with dementia realizes something they’re doing wrong. Just ignore that stuff and let it ride. Count to 10 and let it ride.”
Walk with Colleen and Gord at the Vernon Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer's on Sunday, May 6. Together, we make memories matter.