‘Life can be okay’: Lisa Raitt pays tribute to husband, discusses Alzheimer’s battle
OTTAWA – Sixteen months after finding out the love of her life had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Conservative MP Lisa Raitt says she has learned that living with someone who has dementia is tough but ‘OK.’
Raitt made a members’ statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday to mark World Alzheimer’s Month.
Her husband, Bruce Wood, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in May 2016 at the age of 56, three months before the couple were married.
Raitt says an estimated 564,000 Canadians are living with dementia and 25,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
Her comments come almost a year after she went public with her husband’s diagnosis.
She says she wants the House to know that while it is frustrating that there is no cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s and that simple things like getting out of the house take a lot longer than they used to, she and her husband focus on what’s important.
“You know, we have a good life,” she said.
“We focus on things that Bruce can do, not the things that we can no longer do. We keep our health well, we sleep, we eat well, he exercises, we socialize together. These things that actually matter. I want you to know and I want the House of Commons to know that life can be OK with dementia and Alzheimer’s and I’ll continue to update the house as we continue our journey.”
She received a standing ovation from all parties following her statement.
Wood’s diagnosis came after symptoms of forgetfulness began to appear at work. He left his job as CEO of the Hamilton Port Authority after his diagnosis.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s before the age of 65 is considered to be early-onset. It accounts for up to eight per cent of all diagnoses and the Alzheimer Society of Canada estimates about 16,000 Canadians under the age of 65 are living with the condition.
The rates of dementia are rising, with the number of people living with dementia expected to hit 937,000 in the next 15 years.
© 2017 The Canadian Press