Living with Alzheimers

WINDSOR JUNCTION, NS – It’s a startling statistic; more than 70 per cent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are women. Today, as part of Alzheimer Awareness Month, the Alzheimer Society is kicking off a campaign aimed at women, warning them of the early signs of the disease.

Reverend Faye Forbes found out she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s four years ago. “It was a shock,” said Rev. Forbes, “disbelief, because there’s nothing like that to my knowledge in my family.”

Before the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, doctors believed Forbes suffered from depression. “It was really frustrating,” said Forbes’ daughter Jenn Lightfoot. “Mom was being treated for depression and it just didn’t fit her symptoms; multiple medications and changes and she just never seemed to get better.”

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“I had a hard time concentrating and then it got worse,” said Forbes. “I had a hard time speaking. The thoughts were just jumbled in a fog in my head.”

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The Alzheimer Society says that’s the key – recognizing the symptoms early on – and it’s aiming that message at women. This year’s awareness campaign is called “the 72 %” – which represents the proportion of women who have the disease, compared to men.

“We’re not closer to finding a cure yet,” said Linda Bird, the Director of Programs and Services with Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia. “A lot of research money also goes into quality of life and ways we can help people with the disease, live a better quality of life.”

Forbes said after getting properly diagnosed she quickly started feeling better. “I got on medication and within days there was a difference.”

Forbes has a loving family. She has her own private space in a home she shares with her daughter Jenn. Forbes says everyone has obstacles to overcome. “You have to live, you have to love and you have to laugh and you have to make the best of each day,” she said.

Forbes says her three daughters are all great supporters. She has concerns, but not for herself, as the disease progresses. “I am concerned for them, I’m concerned for my grandkids, who will have to see me like that.”

But Forbes says she knows many people don’t have family to look after then or support when they get older.


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