When Gaynelle Wood speaks about her late husband, Fred, her eyes shine and her face lights up. Gaynelle and Fred enjoyed 62 wonderful years together, and lived an incredibly full life that included travel, family, and many adventures. The last adventure they experienced together was one neither of them had planned for. In 2014, at the age of 75, Fred was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
After receiving his diagnosis, Gaynelle wanted to get a better understanding of his disease and learn about what to expect as it progressed. She reached out to the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick where she was connected to information, resources, and an unexpected community of support.
The pair participated in a number of the Society’s programs, from physical and social stimulation programs to educational programs. In particular, Gaynelle found tremendous support at the Caregiver Support Network in Fredericton. According to Gaynelle, nothing got in her way of going to the group each month. In addition to finding a community of support, she also met two other women whose husbands were also living with Alzheimer’s disease, who have since become lifelong friends.
Through her experience with the Alzheimer Society programs, Gaynelle learned how valuable it can be to connect with others on the dementia journey. In fact, she shares her story with people she encounters who have a loved one who’s recently been diagnosed to ensure that they know they are not alone, and to share how much connecting with others helped her and Fred. Now, Gaynelle hopes to share their story more widely in hopes of spreading awareness.
Gaynelle’s desire to help others goes beyond the gift of her story. After Fred’s passing in 2021, Gaynelle decided to give a gift of stock to the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick to show her appreciation for their services and also to honour Fred’s memory. She has decided that for as long as she is able to do so, she will make this gift annually.
While Fred was living with Alzheimer’s, Gaynelle found a pendant that read “accept what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be.” Those words resonated strongly with her, and she decided to adopt them as her motto and fully embrace them everyday. By being able to accept this experience that was out of her and Fred’s control and to have faith, Gaynelle was able to provide the best possible care to Fred for as long as she was able to, to enjoy each and every moment she had with him, and to connect with a group of people who not only understood her and how she was feeling, but have become an unexpected light for her in a very sad time in her life.
Now that she has had some time since losing Fred to dementia, Gaynelle plans to volunteer at the same support program that she benefited from. By so graciously giving the gift of her experience, her time, and making a financial gift, Gaynelle is investing in her community, and in turn, providing hope to others on the journey that she and Fred walked together.
A donation of publicly traded securities is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can support the Alzheimer Society. This type of gift can be made now or as part of your estate planning. A gift of stock benefits both the investor and the charity, because you can avoid the capital gains tax that you would normally have to pay if you sold the securities and then donated the proceeds.
If you would like to leave a legacy like Gaynelle, click here to learn about the ways to support the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick.