“The Alzheimer Society of Canada gave me the tools and support I needed to cope with my husband’s illness. I laughed and cried with others at the monthly support group, and I received valuable information every step of the way as my husband’s dementia progressed.”
— Myra Conway
Dementia is considered an ‘old person’s disease’, so when Myra Conway’s husband, Michael, was diagnosed at the age of 57, they were shocked. “He was an active civil servant, and I had no idea at first how I would be able to manage with this young man who had an illness that affects much older people,” she says.
Thank goodness for the Alzheimer Society of Canada. The local chapter contacted Myra to tell her about a support group specifically for spouses of people with a disease that affects memory and reasoning, causes changes in mood and behaviour, and eventually interferes with a person’s ability to function at work, in relationships and in everyday activities.
Here, at this support group, Myra found a second home. “Once a month, I had a place I could go to be with other people; to laugh and cry together, share stories, help and support each other. It didn’t matter what I was doing that month, I made sure I didn’t miss a meeting.”
Beyond the support group, which provided the emotional outlet that Myra needed, the Society was there for her every step of the way, as she negotiated the journey as the disease progressed. “Information provided to me by the Society told me what to expect and how to deal with the changes,” Myra said.
After Michael’s passing a few years later, at the age of 62, Myra wanted to give back to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, one of 16 national health charities working under the HealthPartners umbrella to transform the health of Canadians. She derives immense pleasure out of sharing her story with others: “I don’t just give them real information. I tell them that although this is a terrible disease, there is a Society there that will help make their lives not only bearable, but even joyful,” she says. “I am living proof that donating to HealthPartners works.”
747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia today. This number is expected to top 1.4 million by 2031. While age remains the biggest risk factor, dementia can occur in people as early as age 40. A cure has yet to be found but early diagnosis can help families living with dementia make the most of available treatments and support. The Alzheimer Society offers a range of programs and services, including education, support and counseling at every stage of the disease, and across Canada.
HealthPartners proudly supports The Alzheimer Society of Canada.