By Cathy Grand
My mother Huguette was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease nine years ago at the age of 67. Even when she’s unable to speak clearly, she can still communicate with me.
She holds my hand and smiles at me when the words won’t come. If you wait long enough, there will be a sentence or two, and that will make it the greatest day. When she’s able to form clear sentences, she usually tells me how happy she is to see me. Even if it's uncomfortable for you, it means so much to them to be near someone they love.
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a counter-intuitive connection between dementia and memory: friends and family of those living with the disease often try desperately to hold on to memories of their loved ones before their diagnosis. They say they want to remember them as they were and so they don't visit. But my mom is still here. She's still a person and has value.
My experience with my mom has shown me how urgently we need to make dementia care a priority in Canada. I recently launched an online petition to prod the federal government into developing a national plan.
I feel strongly that any plan has to start with helping over-worked nursing staff at long-term care homes as they care for those with dementia, as well as funding for much needed research.
We’re one of the few countries in the Western world without a national dementia strategy. There are a lot of other priorities in the world, but we need this. It's a huge problem and we're just not prepared. We need to take care of our seniors and future seniors, because that's us!
You can help make a national dementia strategy a priority
Write a letter to your MP explaining why a national dementia strategy is important to you. Download our sample letter to get started ►