October 31, 2018 7:03 pm
Updated: November 1, 2018 3:24 pm

Program helps people diagnosed with early stage dementia connect with others

WATCH ABOVE: Minds in Motion helps people diagnosed with early stage dementia stay active while connecting with others in a social setting. Meaghan Craig with more on the program.

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Fred and Margaret Buglas’ love story goes back more than six decades. They were high school sweethearts, raised four children together and are now the proud grandparents of nine grandchildren.

They’ve shared every milestone imaginable together and have been married to each other for 60 of their 83 years. To say the two know one another would be an understatement.

“You get to the point when you know something is wrong,” Fred said.

“But when the changes started, it’s hard to say.”

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In 2014, Margaret underwent a formal assessment and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Statistically, 10 people in Saskatchewan will develop Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia every 24 hours.

Of those, 65 per cent of the cases will be women just like Margaret and families don’t have to face the journey alone.

The Buglas’ said they joined Minds in Motion and like how the programming is down to earth and straight forward.

“This program is for the person with dementia as well as their care partner to come out do some physical activity, meet others that are going through a similar situation which is key,” said Alice Germann, First Link coordinator with Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan.

Often isolation can set in or it can be hard for a couple to find things to do together as the disease progresses, and that’s where the program comes into play.

Minds in Motion is specifically aimed at those living with earlier stages of the disease. It’s a support system among those that don’t necessarily want to discuss it at class but find comfort in knowing others around them understand.

“Alzheimer disease is a form of dementia. There’s also vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy bodies dementia,” Germann added.

“It can be isolating and this program is really to get rid of that stigma that you can’t live well with the disease because you can.”

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Participants and their care partners who attend Minds in Motion, get together once a week during sessions that run either eight or 12 weeks depending on their preference and are held three times a year.

In 2012, the cost of dementia in Saskatchewan was over $957 million (future values) per year, according to the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan. These included direct health costs, unpaid caregiver opportunity costs and indirect costs. By 2038, this number is expected to reach $6.2 billion (future values) per year.

There are 18,000 people in this province living with dementia, according to officials. To put that into perspective, that number is larger than the population of Yorkton and is expected to grow to 28,099 by 2038.

“That’s just the person with the dementia,” Germann said.

“So it doesn’t include the affect that it has on their care partners and their kids and their community.”

Fred said he’s not sure what the future holds or how quickly Margaret will progress.

“Partly it’s avoiding the inevitable,” Fred added.

No matter what happens though, he’ll be right by her side.

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