‘Dementia is more than memory loss’

By Roxanne Varey

Roxanne Varey

My diagnosis of young onset Alzheimer's has helped me become better acquainted with my expressive side.

Surprisingly, I've started writing poetry. It's not something that's going to get published, but for me this has been amazing.

My form of Alzheimer's is particularly aggressive. I likely have no more than 10 years. You know how people say to live life as if you were dying? I get permission to do that.

I started with a poem dedicated to my husband Michael, exploring the transition he’s making from being my spouse to being my caregiver. For his 60th birthday, I gave him a collection of my poems, all of them about him.

I have also become something of media spokesperson for the Alzheimer Society, talking to radio, television and newspaper journalists about learning to live with the disease.

While there are common challenges everyone with this disease must live with, such as short-term memory loss, it affects everyone differently. I have discovered that there are as many ways for dementia to express itself and for those affected to deal with it, as there are people in the world.

I decided early on that I wanted to continue with my job as an administrative assistant for SaskPower for as long as possible. I enjoyed my work and my employer was open to making accommodations.

Since leaving my job about a year ago, Michael and I have ticked off a few things on our "bucket list," including white water rafting. But at the end of the day, what’s really important to me is to spend time with family.

Life doesn't end when Alzheimer's begins. Learn how to be there for those who are #StillHere ►