Discussing dementia’s toll: Don’t let sadness silence us

Watch above: Global National anchor Dawna Friesen opens up about her family and its battle with dementia in a special presentation for 16×9.

It wasn’t an easy decision for me to share my parents story of the toll dementia takes.

I didn’t know if it was right to be so public with their very personal story, especially since my mother especially is a very private person.

She never sought the limelight, and to show her now as opposed to the way she and Dad were in their prime seems like I’ve broken some kind of rule about how daughters should honour their parents.

READ MORE: ‘Dementia will affect you’: Dawna Friesen shares her family’s struggle

I have spent the last few weeks trying to manage my guilt about it, but one thing that has helped is the flood of responses from viewers.

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So many of you have told me how my parents story mirrors what’s happening in your families.

From across the country, I’ve received emails and tweets from people who are either heartbroken as they watch their loved ones slip away into the grasp of dementia, or are mourning for those who are already gone.

Some of you have told me how you’re determined to care for your parents at home, and I can only imagine how difficult that is.

You’ve shared heartbreaking stories of making the decision to move your loved one into a nursing home, but finding the care is not what you ever wanted for your mom or dad. But there was no other choice.

Some of you have shared tragic stories of aggressive behavior among residents in nursing homes, and how ill-equipped staff are to deal with it.

READ MORE: Dementia: What are the early warning signs and symptoms?

I’ve heard from people who suggested everything from exercise to music therapy can help ease some of the symptoms.

You’ve sent poems and prayers and your best wishes to my parents and to me.

Thank you for all of that. It is some solace to know there are so many going through the same thing.

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But, it also makes me realize none of us can let our sadness silence us.

We need to keep talking about it, keep pushing for a national strategy on dementia, keep pushing to raise the standards of care and make them uniform across the country, and keep fighting for more research money to be devoted to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

We owe it to all of our loved ones who are caught in the grip of this.

Watch the full episode of 16×9’s “The Unspooling Mind”

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