We asked Canadians to tell us about the women in their lives affected by dementia. Thank you for responding! Your emails have been touching. We hope by posting your stories we’ll inspire other women to share theirs. Today, there are 747,000 Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In less than 20 years, this number will nearly double to 1.4 million. Thousands more will continue to be involved as caregivers. By raising our voices together, we can spread awareness and keep research going to find better treatments and a cure.
"My mom is currently residing in a Memory Care Unit so I am not offering direct care but am actively involved in her life. On some levels… no matter what our age we look up to our mothers for guidance and advice. It is difficult to acknowledge the changes that come with dementia. Family still means everything to Mom. She will often tell me that her heart jumps out of her chest when she sees me get off the elevator… Expressing her love verbally and affectionately comes more easily as her dementia progresses."
- Christine, Kitchener, Ontario
"My wife has had the disease for a few years and it's progressing. She is unable to do any housework is very appreciative of anything I do for her. She is 82 but in good health otherwise. She requires care 24/7 all by me and I am told by health care providers that I have to look after myself better. We have family but they are very busy with their jobs and families. We are presently winter visitors in Arizona which she likes as we get out to things and have some good friends here. I do go to caregiver meetings back home and she goes to a day program five hours twice a week which she seems to enjoy more all the time."
- Glen, Medicine Hat, Alberta
"My name is Brenda. I'm 51 years old and my life hangs in a delicate balance, juggling the needs of my young son and mom, who has Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's signs can sometimes creep up on you. Don't ignore them. Go to your doctor to get diagnosed and get support from your local Alzheimer Society. Knowledge is a powerful ally. Keep your sense of humour, too. And most of all, treasure all of the special moments. They'll always be there, no matter the stage of the disease. And if you're caregiver like me, remember to take care of yourself. Find something you love to do and do it whenever you can."
- Brenda, Manilla, Ontario
Addendum: Since posting this story, Brenda’s mom passed away. If there is one thing Brenda has learned from her mother is to embrace life’s challenges with humility and grace – and laughter.
"Alzheimer's disease doubly affects women: they make up 72% of Canadians living with this disease and represent 70% of family caregivers, usually a wife or daughter. With the growing evidence that what we do in midlife can affect our chances of getting Alzheimer's and other dementias, women should think about the future of their brains as well as the brains of those they love. Invest in your brain. Keep learning. Stay physically active."
- Dr. Carmela Tartaglia, Assistant Professor, University Health Network - Memory Clinic/Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Toronto
"My name is Carolyn. I’m 26 years old. My sister Claire and I have been living at home looking after our mother Jane for the last six and half years. Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 55. I was only 19 at the time of her diagnosis and my sister was 14. We need to make sure all women are aware of this disease, not only because of its prevalence, but because of the added element of caregiving. Women need to speak up and be champions for this disease. We know our mother would want to fight for this cause. We’re happy to carry the torch for her."
- Carolyn and Claire, Toronto, Ontario
Last Updated: 01/19/15