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Alzheimer Society selects community ambassador

Alzheimer Society selects community ambassador
Dana Connelly plans to establish a caregiver support group in Pincher Creek.
Dana Connelly plans to establish a caregiver support group in Pincher Creek.
IMAGE: Dave Lueneberg
January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Canada and Dana Connelly, Pincher Creek’s newly chosen community dementia ambassador, says families and caregivers don’t need to go it alone.
IMAGE: Dave Lueneberg
January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Canada and Dana Connelly, Pincher Creek’s newly chosen community dementia ambassador, says families and caregivers don’t need to go it alone.

Alzheimer Society selects community ambassador

By Dave Lueneberg
By Dave Lueneberg
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Shootin’ the Breeze Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
January 26, 2024
January 26, 2024

Pincher Creek’s Dana Connelly has a new added role in the community. After applying to become a volunteer with the Alzheimer Society’s Alberta chapter, she was chosen by the not-for-profit organization as the area’s community dementia ambassador.

“We’re really here to educate as many people as we can about Alzheimer’s and the different dementias,” Dana explains. “To also help relieve some of the stress of caregivers.”

A caregiver doesn’t necessarily mean a professional and in many cases can be someone in the family.

Most commonly referred to as Alzheimer’s, dementia is a debilitating disease that begins with mild memory loss and can progress to the point where a person may not recognize close family members or be able to carry on a conversation.

“My parents are both in their 80s,” Dana shares. “I have noticed some memory loss with my mother, maybe related to other things.”

Concerned, she reached out to the society to gather more information about memory loss. Part of the package she received asked if she’d also consider becoming a volunteer.

“So, I filled it out and sent it in,” she says. “I was thinking it was a good time in my life where I should be giving something back, spending my spare time doing other things.”

 

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As ambassador, one of her first goals is to establish a local caregiver support group.

“I’m hoping to co-facilitate the sessions with a colleague, a community navigator, out of Lethbridge,” Dana says.

The gatherings are likely to start sometime in mid to late spring.

Until then, she suggests checking out the society’s website, alzheimer.ca/ab/en.

“There’s tons and tons of information, and the website is a great place for caregivers,” she says. “For people maybe starting to see signs of dementia or community groups looking to help.”

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and, as the name indicates, is meant to bring awareness to a disease which, surprisingly, still brings with it a stigma.

Alzheimer’s, Dana points out, accounts for 64 per cent of all dementias and while there are no definitive triggers, experts in the field believe that certain behaviours lead to a higher risk — high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity, among them.

 

 

There are ten warning signs that may indicate the presence of dementia

Memory changes that affect day-to-day abilities

Are you, or the person you know, forgetting things often or struggling to retain new information?

Difficulty doing familiar tasks

Are you, or the person you know, forgetting how to do a typical routine or task, such as preparing a meal or getting dressed?

Changes in language and communication

Are you, or the person you know, forgetting words or substituting words that don’t fit into a conversation?

Disorientation in time and place

Are you, or the person you know, having problems knowing what day of the week it is or getting lost in a familiar place?

Impaired judgment

Are you, or the person you know, not recognizing something that can put health and safety at risk?

 

 

Problems with abstract thinking

Are you, or the person you know, having problems understanding what numbers and symbols mean?

Misplacing things

Are you, or the person you know, putting things in places where they shouldn’t be?

Changes in mood, personality and behaviour

Are you, or the person you know, exhibiting severe changes in mood?

Loss of initiative

Are you, or the person you know, losing interest in friends, family and favourite activities?

Challenges in understanding visual and spatial information

Are you, or someone you know, having problems seeing things correctly? Or co-ordinating visual and spatial information?

Statistics compiled by the Alzheimer Society show that over 600,000 Canadians are currently living with the condition. It estimates that more than 350 people develop dementia every day, and it’s predicted that close to one million people in Canada will be diagnosed with the disease by 2030.

 

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Pincher Creek’s Dana Connelly has a new added role in the community. After applying to become a volunteer with the Alzheimer Society’s Alberta chapter, she was chosen by the not-for-profit organization as the area’s community dementia ambassador.

“We’re really here to educate as many people as we can about Alzheimer’s and the different dementias,” Dana explains. “To also help relieve some of the stress of caregivers.”

A caregiver doesn’t necessarily mean a professional and in many cases can be someone in the family.

Most commonly referred to as Alzheimer’s, dementia is a debilitating disease that begins with mild memory loss and can progress to the point where a person may not recognize close family members or be able to carry on a conversation.

“My parents are both in their 80s,” Dana shares. “I have noticed some memory loss with my mother, maybe related to other things.”

Concerned, she reached out to the society to gather more information about memory loss. Part of the package she received asked if she’d also consider becoming a volunteer.

“So, I filled it out and sent it in,” she says. “I was thinking it was a good time in my life where I should be giving something back, spending my spare time doing other things.”

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

As ambassador, one of her first goals is to establish a local caregiver support group.

“I’m hoping to co-facilitate the sessions with a colleague, a community navigator, out of Lethbridge,” Dana says.

The gatherings are likely to start sometime in mid to late spring.

Until then, she suggests checking out the society’s website, alzheimer.ca/ab/en.

“There’s tons and tons of information, and the website is a great place for caregivers,” she says. “For people maybe starting to see signs of dementia or community groups looking to help.”

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and, as the name indicates, is meant to bring awareness to a disease which, surprisingly, still brings with it a stigma.

Alzheimer’s, Dana points out, accounts for 64 per cent of all dementias and while there are no definitive triggers, experts in the field believe that certain behaviours lead to a higher risk — high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity, among them.

 

 

There are ten warning signs that may indicate the presence of dementia

Memory changes that affect day-to-day abilities

Are you, or the person you know, forgetting things often or struggling to retain new information?

Difficulty doing familiar tasks

Are you, or the person you know, forgetting how to do a typical routine or task, such as preparing a meal or getting dressed?

Changes in language and communication

Are you, or the person you know, forgetting words or substituting words that don’t fit into a conversation?

Disorientation in time and place

Are you, or the person you know, having problems knowing what day of the week it is or getting lost in a familiar place?

Impaired judgment

Are you, or the person you know, not recognizing something that can put health and safety at risk?

 

Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion

 

Problems with abstract thinking

Are you, or the person you know, having problems understanding what numbers and symbols mean?

Misplacing things

Are you, or the person you know, putting things in places where they shouldn’t be?

Changes in mood, personality and behaviour

Are you, or the person you know, exhibiting severe changes in mood?

Loss of initiative

Are you, or the person you know, losing interest in friends, family and favourite activities?

Challenges in understanding visual and spatial information

Are you, or someone you know, having problems seeing things correctly? Or co-ordinating visual and spatial information?

Statistics compiled by the Alzheimer Society show that over 600,000 Canadians are currently living with the condition. It estimates that more than 350 people develop dementia every day, and it’s predicted that close to one million people in Canada will be diagnosed with the disease by 2030.

 

 

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