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Alzheimer walk raises funds to serve local needs

The County’s walk at Macaulay Park was one of 150 that were held across Canada.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Under warm, sunny skies a small bunch of keen walkers visited Macaulay Heritage Park to enjoy the fine weather, but to also help raise funds for the annual Prince Edward County Walk for Alzheimer’s.

Almost $4,500 was raised for the Alzheimer Society of Hastings-Prince Edward (ASHPE) here, with more contributions expected to continue to come before the end of the month when final tallies are made.

The event was one of four in the region with $22,500 raised in Belleville, $11,000 in Bancroft, $6,500 in Quinte West and Brighton and $5,100 in Tweed.

Prizes were given out for the top fundraising by a team, as well as most funds raised by an individual.

Leona Skans, winner of the individual fundraising category, with Lorraine Ross, winner of the team fundraising category.

The team category was won by Lorraine Ross who raised $2,520, with Leona Skans contributing $120 in the individual category.

“We are one of 150 walks happening today across Canada – it’s the Alzheimer’s Walk Weekend, so they’re everywhere!” said ASHPE’s Lorraine Ross, who works with the First Link program.

Gentle warm-up exercises conducted by the Prince Edward Fitness and Aquatic Centre got everyone limbered up –and warmed-up on this warm morning- and ready to go in advance of the short woodland trail walk behind Macaulay Heritage Park.

Phil St.-Jean

Representing Prince Edward County mayor Steve Ferguson (who was attending a conference in Toronto), was councillor Phil St-Jean, who also spoke to his own personal connection to the disease through family members.

“Alzheimer’s and dementia are very personal for me; my grandfather, my uncle, and, of course, my mother, who was diagnosed about seven years ago,” said St-Jean.

“I have to say that because of the efforts and programs and services of the Alzheimer’s Society -and they have an office right here in Picton – they were instrumental in assisting us to understand what our mother was going through, and what to expect,” he said.

“I know timelines are fluid with dementia and Alzheimer’s, but certainly our family are very, very appreciative that everything the Alzheimer’s Society does in our community, and to support, unfortunately, all of those people that are afflicted – keep up the good work!”

Two OPP officers were on hand briefly to talk about Project Lifesaver, one of the programs offered by the Alzheimer Society.

“If someone has dementia or Alzheimer’s and gets to a point where they may wander or may not know where they are going, this is a tool to be used to keep them safe, and to keep people mindful,” said ASHPEs Jennifer Loner.

All funds raised in Prince Edward County stay in Prince Edward County and help support the services and resources provided by the Picton office.

“All funds raised for this walk do stay local to support the almost 5,000 people living with dementia throughout Hastings-Prince Edward and Brighton,” reminded Ross.

The ASHPE provides free navigation, referral, support and education to individuals and families in the community who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia living throughout Prince Edward County and Hastings County, as well as Brighton.

Support comes in many forms whether it’s for those living with dementia, care partners, family members or the public, and may be one-on-one support or group settings, public education presentations, and dementia care training, among them.

All services, resources and programming offered by ASHPE is free to its users, something that can only be achieved with the help of fundraising walks such as this.

The Ministry of Health provides just 40 per cent of their funding, so the annual fundraiser, ASHPEs biggest, is essential to maintain its services.

More than 600,000 Canadians live with Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia.

By 2050, it is expected 1.7 million Canadians will be living with dementia, where it is noted the aging population means on-going increases in those affected.

Key early warning signs of dementia may include memory loss that affects day-to-day function, difficulty performing familiar tasks, problems with language, disorientation of time and place, poor or decreased judgement, problems with abstract thinking, misplacing things, and changes in mood and behaviour.

Self-referrals are welcome, and no diagnosis is necessary, where family members and individuals are encouraged to reach out to start the conversation about Alzheimer and dementia, and to seek help as early as possible.

The Alzheimer Society’s PEC office moved during the COVID-19 pandemic and can now be found at 35 Bridge Street, Picton. To learn more about the Alzheimer Society of Hastings-Prince Edward, to volunteer, or to donate, visit, or call 613-476-2085.

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