Support Changes Everything: A care partner perspective

Nova Scotia

Barry Bowman’s wife, Carla, was diagnosed with dementia in 2021 at the age of 56. He wants to encourage others to reach out and make a connection with the Society.

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Barry Bowman’s wife, Carla, was diagnosed with dementia in 2021 at the age of 56. The diagnosis gave them an explanation for what they were seeing, as well as connection to help and support.

Young-onset dementia has a unique set of circumstances and challenges, but Barry approached it as positively as he could – with a “steady diet of ‘you can do this!’”

He got connected with the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia and started with our Family Caregiver Education Series. There he learned more about dementia and what to expect, helping him step into the role of caregiver.

Our Young-Onset Caregiver Support group helped him understand that there are other people going through the same thing. Barry wanted to share his and Carla’s story and what he has learned so far, in hopes that others will feel encouraged and empowered to do it too.

“No matter what their walk of life is, their ability, their age or what their circumstances are, I want people to know that they can do this,” says Barry.

Some of the advice that Barry has shared:

Though his goal is to have Carla at home as long as possible, he shares that he’s found it helpful to get connected with Continuing Care to find out about resources they may need down the road. Being informed and knowing what will be available helps to ease his and Carla’s concerns, knowing that they are prepared and ready to cross that bridge together when they come to it.

Barry leans into his faith to cope with the changes in their relationship – it’s a major adjustment to go through this.

“I apply some timeless and practical scriptural advice from my own personal faith (Jehovah’s Witness),” says Barry. “’Everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.’ This really helps when patience isn’t always easy. It makes you stop, regroup, and look at the situation remembering she is as frustrated as I am, and it changes my actions.”

Work is a meaningful outlet that brings sense of accomplishment that builds resilience that he can take home with him.

They try to maintain community activities that Carla was always involved in wherever they can. Barry shares that while she knows there’s things that she can’t physically do anymore, knowing she’s still involved helps. They continue their routine with some adaptions, simplifying to make things easier for her.

Barry wants to encourage others to reach out and make a connection to the Society.

“When you know that there’s a community there, when you have education and you are grounded, you’ll understand what you’re dealing with,” says Barry. “If you feel it’s over your head, make a phone call. Talk to somebody – sometimes that is what you need, something to lean against.”

The Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia can be your first link to support, knowledge and community. Call us today at 1-800-611-6345.

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