Living with Dementia
As a first step towards acceptance of the changes in my husband [after his diagnosis] I made a phone call to the Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary to sign up for a course. After explaining my intent, and before anything else was said, the person on the other end of the phone asked, “How are you doing?” So unexpected, so sincere, so compassionate, so moving. We chatted for a long time.
I hope others will understand it's OK to hurt. I am so grateful to you all for the support you have given our family through the years.
Her mother Gladys inspires her to this day
Donna’s mother Gladys (shown below) was a big part of her life. Gladys lived with dementia for many years, and Donna has some distinct memories to prove it. Here she is, soaking in the sun, at a pool in Las Vegas.
They lived in the moment and appreciated being together
I got the opportunity to go to Vegas for two weeks with my mom. It was my first time and I don’t even gamble. Mom loved it. My Dad wanted to treat her, as he’s not a traveler himself, and he planned this trip. Then he passed away tragically and suddenly. It was important to stick to the plan. It’s what Dad would have wanted.
Mom played slots. We laid by the pool because she was a sun worshipper, but she also loved to go in the water. We kept the bartenders busy making those nice frozen drinks. And she had this floppy foam hat to keep her head cool. I bought postcards and we sat in the hotel room and we wrote them all out to the family. It was special coming from her. She would have thought of the family in some way.
There were certainly hardships
My brother Gary (above) was the primary caregiver for a while. Here they are pictured together at the slots in Vegas. She moved in with him because he didn’t want her placed. We decided to try it and get Homecare to come in and help out. It worked alright for about a year, maybe more. And then it was getting harder. Mom wouldn’t let Homecare in because she liked the English lady who was now gone. Eventually she was placed at a care facility in Edmonton because she needed more care.
Finding ways to see the humour
Looking back at important lessons
Peer support helped
Donna’s experience inspired a career change
Donna’s journey prompts her to walk and raise funds for local families. Every year.
Donna offers some thoughts to others in the same boat
Reaching out to people at the Alzheimer Society of Calgary saved my life. They really understood, and didn’t judge me."