As Rose Hill Lane reflects on Alzheimer’s Awareness month, we feel privileged to highlight the work of the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara (ASNR). Last year it was estimated that over 10,000 people in the Niagara region are living with progressive dementia, and the numbers continue to grow. September is World Alzheimer’s awareness month, and Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara is our frontline hero.
With isolation measures becoming part of our daily reality, Niagara’s high-risk elderly population is even more vulnerable. The Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara’s consistent approach over the last 6 months has provided people living with dementia much needed safety supervision and meaningful interaction via:
- Essential respite/relief for families who provide care to their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s
- Online education for family caregivers and healthcare professionals
- Coordination of referrals for new clients to gain access to elder care resources
- Helping families to navigate the health system which can be daunting for anyone receiving adiagnosis, and no doubt compounded during the past 6 months
We recently had the honour to speak one on one with Teena Kindt, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara, to discuss the invaluable support the organization provides to the Niagara Region. Teena has worked with ASNR for 16 years, and enjoys working for a greater purpose, with a team who truly cares about their clients. She loves meeting new people and learning about diverse lifestyles and how each family has different approaches to the journey of living with Alzheimer’s. Teena is engaged in developing the Dementia Strategy for Ontario with equally committed advocates across the province and the country. The ASNR collaborates with local and provincial government bodies to raise awareness and advocate for our Niagara population.
Isolation is a new concept for most of us. Teena poignantly notes that isolation is the normal day to day rhythm of the person who bravely takes the responsibility of caring for their family member with Alzheimer’s. Here’s what we’ve learned about what it feels like when you care for someone with Alzheimer’s:
- You will feel the loss of the person that you have known and loved
- You may not be able to leave the person for many days in a row due to safety concerns
- You will at times experience a lack of sleep, exhaustion and struggle with your own self care
- You, as a caregiver may feel isolated as the demands of providing care narrow your ability to socialize and continue your personal activities
The ASNR understands isolation, before there was ever a pandemic. And the ASNR has always provided programming to battle this very thing. Over the last 16 years, Teena has seen an increase in creative social programming for the individual such as art therapy, exercise classes, and brain waves cafes. In response to COVID-19, the ASNR has shifted to a virtual delivery of these programs wherever possible and is continually seeking new programming opportunities to serve those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and for those who care for people with Alzheimer’s
We asked Teena, “What can we as healthcare professionals do to better support the Alzheimer’s Society?” Her response is to continue to approach client care collaboratively. Hospitals, Doctors, Pharmacies, Personal Support Workers, the LHINS, and community supports – integrating as many resources as possible so that the individual ultimately benefits from a holistic health care approach.
“If you could change one thing in the fight for Alzheimer’s, what would it be?” Teena’s wish is to end the stigma against persons living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. That people will one day feel comfortable reaching out for information, resources, and support. It is projected in the coming years that 1 in 5 people will be a direct caregiver for Alzheimer’s, and 75% of us already know someone suffering with this disease. She emphasizes that “People don’t have to do this alone, there is help and support as this journey begins and progresses.”
Rose Hill Lane believes that we each have a responsibility to care for our elders, and to ensure their wellbeing as they navigate the challenges of Alzheimer’s. It is a disease that families share with it’s heartbreak and frustrations. In upcoming blogs, we will tell you more about events that Rose Hill Lane is planning to support Alzheimer’s and hope that you will join us to help. For more information on how to get involved please visit the website at https://alzheimer.ca/en/niagara.
Rose Hill Lane thanks these front-line hero’s at the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara for all that they do.
If you are concerned about a loved one, connect with your medical doctor, and call the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara at 905-687-3914. Ask about The First Link Program. It is the gateway to all the wonderful resources available to our Niagara families.