Interview with Francine Marchand


Francine is 75 years old and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago. During this sit down, she explains her journey living with the disease, the reactions of her loved ones, her desire to do her part to destigmatize Alzheimer’s and to raise awareness about it. She also shares her advice on how to take care of your health.

Read about Francine Marchand's journey: Mainting your cognitive health when you're living with Alzheimer's disease.

Tell us about yourself. 

I’m 75 years old. When I look at my life, I am humbled by how blessed I am. After 55 years of marriage, I’m still in love with my husband. We have 5 daughters, 12 grandchildren and 7 great-granchildren. For more than 30 years, I had the privilege of using my creativity in a field that I love: food. I’m used to being very busy but I’ve always set time aside for my what’s important to me: my family, cooking, reading, playing golf and reflecting on my life. 

When did you find out that you had Alzheimer’s? How were you diagnosed and how did you react? 

I was diagnosed 3 years ago on December 2, 2019. First of all, I was convinced that I didn’t have the disease, but my husband wasn’t so sure. When my neurologist gave me the diagnosis, I was up and heading out the door before he’d even finished explaining to us what he could do for me. I was overcome with emotion and could barely speak. We excused ourselves and left.  

How did you find the Alzheimer Society?

Once I’d gone through the 4 first stages of grief, I wanted to know everything about the disease. I turned on my computer and did a search for Alzheimer’s and, to my surprise, I found out that there was a local Alzheimer Society in MY city. Shortly after, I went down there in person. I’ll be eternally grateful to them because they always have all the resources I need.   

About a month after I was diagnosed, I finally felt strong enough mentally to leave my cocoon. So off I went to the drugstore where I bumped in to someone I know well but who isn’t part of my close circle. Of course, she asked how I was doing. I didn’t know what to answer, if I should tell her or not. As soon as I shared my news she started to cry in front of everyone. I must admit that I was shaken when I got home.

Two weeks later, I ran into two other people who I shared my news with one-on-one. This time no one cried, but I did see a look of terror in their eyes. I didn’t like how it made me feel. It was as if I had a defect. 

Looking back, I’m grateful for those encounters. They made me realize that one day, if the progression of my disease allowed it, I would do my part in raising awareness about Alzheimer’s – because it’s a disease.  

Do you have any tips on staying healthy and stimulating your brain?

I go to bed early so I’m in top shape in the morning. I cook at least one good meal a day made up of healthy ingredients that are good for my brain.

I like feeling connected to the world so I pay attention to what’s happening elsewhere. I talk to at lease one other person every day, other than my husband. I play several games of Scrabble GO every day, and I read a lot, mostly spiritual self-help books.

I nap every afternoon and use this time to tap into what’s going on inside me. Most importantly, I do what my neurologist highly recommends: I watch myself breathe! You heard right! I watch myself breathe and it does me so much good; I breathe much slower and deeper. I must admit that my doctor was right. Knowing how to breathe is the best protection against any illness. I also walk a little every day. Not enough but I’m improving!