REGINA – Roxanne and Michael Varey fell in love while dancing many years ago and have made it part of their nightly routine ever since one of them was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“I said to him, whenever you feel like you’ve lost me, just play music and I’ll come back to you,” said Roxanne. “I said, ‘honey we need to start dancing every night so it becomes familiar’.”
The 52-year-old was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s last year and said she relies on routine to help her remember when she forgets things like tasks or words.
“It was just echoing in my head,” describes Roxanne upon hearing her diagnosis. “’You’re terminal. No cure.’ I’m 51!”
Her husband Michael said the news came as a shock, given that his wife was so young.
“I understand my father who has Alzheimer’s but he’s in his eighties, that makes sense,” he said. “Fifties? No not so much.”
Though the pair has since found positive ways to cope, like writing poetry, they said there are some tougher realities.
Roxanne decided to give up her job in July due to her condition which has had a major financial impact on their household.
Her story is not uncommon in Canada where women represent 72 per cent of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
CEO of the Saskatchewan Alzheimer Society explained there are more women living with the disease because women tend to live longer than men.
“We want them to know the warning signs, we want them to understand them, and be aware of them so if they are experiencing the signs and symptoms they reach out for help and support.”
Roxanne said it’s that kind of support that’s helped her and her husband channel their fears into an optimistic future.
“There is good, still much good to come,” she said. “I’m looking forward to more good things we have planned.”
The Alzheimer Society launched “The 72%” campaign in January to mark Alzheimer’s Awareness Month with a hope people will recognize the warning signs and receive a proper diagnosis.
For more details and a list of symptoms you can visit the organization’s website or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org