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Alzheimer’s through the lens of the beholder

Virtual events to be held in honour of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

A mother and grandmother living with Alzheimer’s disease are sharing their story in honour of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

The Alzheimer Society has launched a four-part short film series that follows Alicia and her family as they confront the disease head-on and share their story, struggle and moments of connection.

“We are so thankful to Alicia and her family for sharing their important story,” says Denyse Newton, CEO of Alzheimer Society of Durham Region, noting their story helps represent the other 1.1 million Canadians who are currently affected by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

She says her story “reminds us about the importance of support and the power of love.”

Throughout the series, viewers see inside the lives of Alicia, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 10 years ago, her daughter and caregiver, Judy, and the rest of her family to get a look at how this disease affects Alicia and her family, the challenges and heartbreak they face, as well as the feelings of togetherness and moments of laughter they share.

“I hope by sharing our story, it shows others who are going through similar situations that they are not alone,” says Judy, Alicia’s daughter and caregiver. “Sharing and connecting with others is so important. It changes everything.”

Raymond Cho, minister of seniors and accessibility, says the government is “proud” to support the work of the Alzheimer Society in helping people understand the challenges of living with dementia.

“I encourage everyone to reach out and provide a connection for an older adult in their lives,” he says. “Together we can reduce social isolation and keep the spirit of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month going year-round.”

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are irreversible and progressive brain disorders that slowly weaken memory, thinking, skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

There are currently 25,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed in Canada each year, which is expected to triple by 2050, according to Alzheimer Society of Durham Region.

As the number of people living with dementia increases, the cost of caregiving today provided by family members and friends is expected to increase from its current $12 billion, which is why the organization says building connections that matter “is at the heart and soul of what we do at Alzheimer Societies across Ontario.”

The Alzheimer Society of Durham Region says it’s important to know the risks of developing dementia.

In honour of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, the organization will also be presenting a series of free online workshops, including a unique presentation highlighting the impacts of sex and gender on brain health.

The workshops will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 6 p.m.

On Jan. 20, there will be a workshop on “Brain Health: What does gender and sex have to do with it?” The workshop will discuss the roles hormones play, how much genetics influence one’s risk of dementia, and possible social factors to consider when calculating risks.

Finally, those interested can join an Introduction to Mindfulness class on Jan. 27 at 6 p.m., attend one of the monthly Care Partner Support Groups, or register for the Next Steps for Family and Friends online workshop series.

For more information about Alzheimer Society of Durham Region’s January 2021 Alzheimer’s Awareness Month events, contact the public education coordinator at astephenson@alzheimerdurham.com, or register online at asdr.eventbrite.ca.

To follow along and watch Alicia and her family’s story, visit https://bit.ly/alicia-story.

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