“I live with dementia…in Cranbrook. Let me help you understand.”
Canadians affected by dementia are going public for a third consecutive year in an effort to change hearts and minds. People living with the disease, their caregivers and family members are courageously stepping forward with their personal stories in the Alzheimer Society’s nation-wide campaign, I live with dementia. Let me help you understand as part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
“My initial reaction to his diagnosis was that I was scared to use the word ‘dementia’ to describe Terry’s behaviour,” says Barb Wright, whose husband Terry Stodler is living with the disease and was diagnosed in 2018. “I wasn’t sure what it would mean for us. We’d just moved to the region.”
When Barb and Terry first moved to the East Kootenays from Saskatchewan, they were looking for a bit of adventure in retirement. They didn’t expect to find themselves dealing with both a diagnosis of cancer and eventually dementia.
“We started to notice changes in Terry back in 2017,” Barb says. “He was quieter and having some memory problems. Since our move to B.C., Terry spent a season working at a golf course. In 2018, a few people who knew Terry, noticed that something was different, he seemed more overwhelmed, and he couldn’t keep up.”
Barb describes the time since Terry was initially diagnosed as an eye-opener. They’ve adjusted their life to accommodate the challenges presented by the disease. “Within this area, we have gradually acquired support by way of a small but mighty group of friends and are still learning our way around the services that are available.”
One way they have started to build a community is by attending the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Minds in Motion®, a social and fitness program for people in the early stages of the disease. Minds in Motion® offers the person with dementia and a care partner, the chance to connect with others on the same journey.
Barb hopes people understand that a person living with dementia will always be an important member of the family. She has learned many things on this journey but most important has been that respect and dignity must lead the way, a sense of humor has become invaluable and being kind will trump being right on any day.
Want to learn more?
Read the stories of more B.C. individuals and families who are affected by dementia and help us change the conversation!