Calgary charity supporting people living with dementia needs vacant office space

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WATCH: Calgary charity YouQuest needs a vacant commercial office space to continue its services in support of people living with early-onset dementia. Christa Dao reports. – Aug 16, 2020

A one-of-a-kind Calgary charity is in need of office space to continue its services for people living with early-onset dementia.

YouQuest offers recreational programs for Calgarians under 65 years old and provides daytime resources for them and their families.

Co-founder Cindy McCaffery said the program is different from others in that it provides a safe space for participants in the daytime.

“One of the things about young onset dementia that’s different than with an older person with dementia is that the person is still very physically active and strong,” Cindy said.

“Many of our participants are still in their 50s and they like to play basketball, badminton [and] squash.”

Read more: Caring for a loved one with dementia during COVID-19 extra challenging, says expert

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YouQuest was operating out of SAIT’s wellness centre but the facility is closed now.

On its website, SAIT said the campus centre will remain closed until it can “ascertain [its] capacity to address public health restrictions alongside our sporting environments.”

The organization needs a vacant office or commercial space to rent — at a charity-friendly rate — two days per week. The space would need to be close to an LRT station and have a large meeting room where up to 20 people can meet with physical distancing measures in place.

Read more: 12 risk factors key to preventing nearly half of dementia cases, report says

The group usually meets on Thursdays, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had to halt its programs.

“COVID has, unfortunately, made our participants stay home where they get isolated. They don’t get to visit their friends, they feel confined and the care partners feel all those things as well,” Cindy said.

Her husband, John McCaffery, was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia more than a decade ago.

At 61 years old, John is still very active. The program allows him to remain fit and socialize with friends.

Read more: Many don’t understand the risk factors for dementia: study

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“One of the things, when I started having difficulty thinking, is [that] a lot of my activities dropped off… We get together with a group of volunteers and we do activities and hang out for a day,” John said.

YouQuest also provides a day of respite for caregivers, offering up peace of mind while giving caregivers some time to themselves.

“We wanted to provide a lot of activity for people with young-onset dementia to get them out of the house and back to doing the things that they enjoyed before their diagnosis. It really helps the care partners because then they have a day to themselves where they can do errands or just relax or in my case, go back to the office,” Cindy said.

“It’s great for my wife to know that we’re out somewhere with groups of volunteers and that we’re not getting into trouble,” John said.  “I think the bottom line with YouQuest is that [it is] a way of having a good day.”

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