Alzheimer’s Awareness Month mitigates social isolation for caregivers

Click to play video: 'Alzheimers Society of B.C. connects virtually with caregivers to mitigate isolation' Alzheimers Society of B.C. connects virtually with caregivers to mitigate isolation
January is Alzheimer's awareness month and for many families, it can be a devastating diagnosis. The Alzheimers Society of B.C. is hoping to lighten the load on those diagnosed and their loved ones who become caretakers. – Jan 16, 2021

Naomi Mison has dedicated her life to helping others after her mother was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia in 2007 when she was 54-years-old.

Mison was only 23-years old when her mom was diagnosed and she became a co-caregiver with her brother. Now Mison is an advocate for other primary caregivers to make sure they know they are not alone.

“The first 10 years of the diagnosis I didn’t share this, I kept it to myself,” Mison said. “You are just trying to come to grips with this huge change that is thrust upon you and you just need to deal with it. I just decided after a decade of care giving I didn’t want to suffer in silence I wanted to build a community and share my story.”

She hopes that by sharing her experience she will inspire other caregivers to access the resources that the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia offers as part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

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“You are basically the mother to your mother and that is a very unique experience,” Mison said.

“I know for myself I spent a lot of time putting her first and not focusing on myself only to realize eventually she is not going to remember who you are.”

Read more: A Global BC icon: Deb Hope’s ‘heartbreaking journey’ with Alzheimer’s disease

Mison found volunteering and sharing her story cathartic.

“It’s always been difficult but I feel like finding the Alzheimers Society raising my voice and advocating has really helped with the mental strain.”

The Alzheimers Society cites that 500,000 Canadians live with dementia today, one in five Canadians have experienced caring for someone living with dementia and that 87 per cent of caregivers wish that more people understood the realities of caring for someone who has been diagnosed.

Read more: Canadian soccer icon aims to lessen Alzheimer’s stigma by sharing his family’s story

“Dementia is an umbrella term for an overall group of symptoms caused by a brain disorder. There are all different types of dementia; Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common vascular dementia is another one Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia just to name a few,” said Sherry Wezner, First Link support and education coordinator for the Alzheimers Society.

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The Alzheimers Society is reminding people of their online services that can help lift the burden on caregivers and help those who have been diagnosed.

“No one needs to be alone on the dementia journey and those looking for information and support can give us a call,” Wezner said.

The January-long campaign will conclude with a special webinar on Jan. 27 where Mison will be a special guest speaker.

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