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Walk for Memories donations still welcome

 

The weekend’s Walk for Memories for the Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward County raised $3,693 – down about $1,500 from last year.
“Unfortunately, three of our past top walkers were unable to participate this year,” said Linda Jackson, the society’s executive director. “Ironically, two of the three couldn’t participate because of Alzheimer’s.”
However, the society also raised $580 through the raffle of  Mark Kirk’s pencil sketch of Steam Engine 6218.

Donation can still be made to the Prince Edward County walk online (or in person) until February 28.  Visit www.walkformemories.ca and follow the links to locate the Picton site or visit the local office at 90 King St., Picton, ON.

The weekend’s Walk for Memories for the Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward County raised $3,693 – down about $1,500 from last year.
Donation can still be made to the Prince Edward County walk online (or in person) until February 28.  Visit www.walkformemories.ca and follow the links to locate the Picton site or visit the local office at 90 King St., Picton, ON.

Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be opportunity for reflection

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia can be a devastating experience for families. It can also be an opportunity for reflection, caring and hope.

Prince Edward County’s Bonnie Kirk was asked by a friend and co-volunteer to write a personal story about living with Alzheimer’s disease because her husband Mark was diagnosed with the illness about a year ago.
“At first, I was hesitant to write anything,” Bonnie said. “However, Mark and I discussed it and we hope that by sharing our story, we might be able to make a difference for others.”

Our Journey
My husband Mark and I were stopped in our tracks a year ago with the diagnosis that he has Alzheimer disease.

At age 64 (possibly younger), he began experiencing difficulty with some memory loss. Some of the difficulties involved remembering people’s names, how to retrieve messages from voice mail, dialing telephone numbers and his conversational skills changed.
He lost the ability to perform tasks that he had always known well – such as taping television shows on the PVR and hooking up the TV, speakers and wiring.
He was starting to suffer the inability to learn new functions, such as putting together a new barbecue and he also lost his desire to take on routine jobs such as lawn cutting, garden maintenance, painting, home repairs or cooking the odd meal.

We are extremely fortunate our family doctor, Dr. Burke, referred Mark to a Kingston specialist, Dr. Garcia who diagnosed Alzheimers.
She prescribed medication and challenged us to become more actively involved socially, physically and mentally. Mark is doing everything possible to meet Dr. Garcia’s expectations including daily crossword puzzles, joining a WII bowling team an walking almost daily with our Newfoundland dog, Teddy.

Although Mark was prescribed medication almost immediately, there is nothing that will halt the disease. He knows that and is frustrated with that.

After we came to grips with the diagnosis we chose to let others know. I have observed that people generally handle our situation in one of three ways:
1) Deny it and pretend it isn’t true.
2) Totally disband the relationship they have shared with you.
3) Accept the news and support those involved by listening and sharing information.

Mark is certainly aware of his condition and finds it very frustrating in many ways. He had to give up his upholstery work because of his loss of numbers usage (measuring materials, etc.) and finds that his ability to communicate is becoming even more challenging.

Alzheimer’s Disease can leave the afflicted – and the care partner – very lonely.

Mark has touched many lives over the years. He enjoyed a 24-year career as a foreman in the General Motors Truck plant (Oshawa), coached minor league hockey (Oshawa), coached figure skating in Picton, Wellington, Frankford and Trenton and through his unique, artistic ability, he upholstered automobile interiors, boat interiors, motorcycle seats or whatever the customers brought to him.

This is only one story of many that are in our community and across Canada. Support groups are available. January is Alzheimer month. Please support the Alzheimer Society.

Our journey continues.
– Mark and Bonnie Kirk
Visit here for more stories shared with The Alzheimer Society of Ontario.

Everyone walks for a reason, and we all have a reason to care.

Join Prince Edward County residents as they “Walk for Memories” Saturday, January 29 from 1-5 p.m. at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute. As well as the walk, there will be a Poker Run beginning at 1 p.m. and a euchre tournament at 2:30 p.m.
If you are unable to participate, sponsor a walker or make a donation by calling 613-476-2085.
The Alzheimer Society Walk for Memories is the largest fundraising event in the province dedicated to increasing awareness and raising funds for vital programs and services that support people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Images from the 2010 walk include fundraisers Mary Mellor and Mary McKinlay; Jen Mabee, Gary Deroche, Dan Cheatley and Kristen McCall and Irene McGee and Doris McKenna

Walk for Memories building steam

Steam Engine 6218 was the last steam engine built in Canada, in 1942, by the Montreal Locomotive Works and was retired in 1973. It was the last steam engine to carry rail passengers in Canada. Artist Mark Kirk commissioned 7 Elements to reproduce his original sketch and donated the piece to the Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward County to be used in a raffle raising funds for this year’s Walk For Memories, Sat. January 29 from 1-5 p.m. at Prince Edward Collegiate. Tickets ($2 or three for $5) are available at the Alzheimer Society office on Paul Street. Funds raised for the 2011 Walk For Memories go toward supporting programs and services offered to Prince Edward County families living with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

This year, the first wave of baby boomers turns age 65.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada reports an online survey of baby boomers across the nation reveals a worrying lack of awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.
Survey results show an astonishing 23 per cent of boomers can’t name any of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, even though their risk doubles every five years after age 65.
Of those surveyed, 50 per cent identified memory loss as a key symptom, but failed to mention other critical signs.
“Boomers are their own best detectors of Alzheimer’s,” says Mary Schulz, National Director of Education at the Alzheimer Society. “This is an insidious disease. Most people associate memory loss with Alzheimer’s but it’s so much more. Sudden changes in mood, misplacing common household items (like keys in the refrigerator), repeating words or statements or difficulty with everyday tasks like getting dressed can all be warning signs that need to be discussed with a doctor.”

Most boomers are familiar with the common hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease of not recognizing familiar faces and objects. But less than half know about life-altering changes, such as hallucinations or total dependency on others for basic care, that occur in the disease’s later stages. More troubling, respondents are unaware that diabetes, obesity, heart disease and chronic depression significantly increase their odds for developing the disease.

Today’s findings confirm a disturbing lack of knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease among boomers, the country’s largest demographic group, who will become increasingly at risk as they age. But the reasons for self-awareness and prevention have never been more compelling. Without a cure or drugs to stop the disease, Alzheimer’s is destined to be the most pressing and costly health issue boomers will face in their lifetime: either they will get the disease themselves or be faced with caring for someone with the disease.

In Judy Southon’s case, it might have saved her a lot of anguish. The 63-year-old former school teacher and business owner was blindsided four years ago when her husband Vic, an electrician, was diagnosed with both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. “I started noticing he was having trouble fixing ordinary things and using a drill. He couldn’t follow instructions, use his cell phone or handle money; he couldn’t even tell time. I was traumatized. The grief never goes away, but the more you know about this disease, the better you’ll cope and plan ahead and make the most of each day. It’s important that people really understand and be aware of the signs.” At 74, Vic is now in the last stages of the disease and is being cared for in a long-term care facility.

During Alzheimer Awareness Month, the Alzheimer Society is asking Canadians to test their own knowledge by taking the survey at www.alzheimer.ca/testyourknowledge. The Society also urges Canadians, especially those 40 and older, to practice prevention by learning the risks and making simple lifestyle changes: eat a heart-healthy diet, stay active, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and monitor their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE at the Alzheimer Society of Canada site!

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  1. Wendy Simmons says:

    Great article. Thank you for sharing. I had two parents with the disease for 3 years in nursing home care. Now just one. It’s never easy watching those you love decline. I only hope they are happy in their own world. They may not remember who I am, but I remember who they are/were.
    My thoughts are with you both.
    Wendy

  2. Dar says:

    Great article Bon… well done 🙂

  3. Don Griffith says:

    A great piece Bonnie.I’m thinking of you and Mark. — Don

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