Today we're giving you our gratitude. And shedding some light on what happens when you give.
Dear friends and supporters,
Today is “Giving Tuesday” - a day dedicated to giving back around the world and in the community. If you’ve given a gift recently, or if you’re thinking about it this season, read below to learn what YOU’RE GIVING this holiday season when you make a donation to Alzheimer Society of Calgary.
Thank you on behalf of the families we serve.
Barb Ferguson, Executive Director
Alzheimer Society of Calgary
Here’s what you are giving this season
You’re giving a community of support
Mark shifted gears as he came around the corners of the winding road. The trees were like a thick wall of greenery and darkness that lined the road for miles. The wind blew the humid breeze through the car and he inhaled the warm familiar scents of many vacations they had been on together.
As Mark arrived in the sleepy town late that night, he began laying out his clothes for tomorrow’s journey. There was nothing left to do now and loneliness quickly came to meet him. He said out loud to an empty room, “what am I doing here?” He felt the emptiness fill him. Why did he come here alone? This was their spot. Where they had vacationed, where they had eaten their favorite scallops and where she collected shells and starfish. He felt silly for thinking he could manage there alone.
That was it. Mark made a plan to head home in the morning. The next morning he went to get breakfast and received a phone call from Gary, a dear friend he’d met and bonded with during their meetings at a support group. Gary, too, had been struggling with the loss of his wife. He was a caregiver. He wife had dementia, just like Mark’s. As Mark listened to Gary empathize and share his own story of struggle with vacationing alone he began to feel more encouraged about his trip. Gary was asking about his plans for the next few days and suddenly the memories were flooding back. She was in everything. The memories filled Mark with warmth. It wasn’t about being alone anymore, it was about moving forward and enjoying the memories of the past.
You’re giving friendship
Attending Club 36 Adult Day Program can be a little intimidating and difficult for someone living with dementia. At first, it wasn’t easy for the family to convince Diane to try attending the Club. Her caregiver Dave was exhausted and was encouraged by the benefits that Club could offer his mom to get out of the house and socialize. Initially, it was a struggle as Diane was hesitant. During the first two weeks, Club staff and Dave worked together with Diane to help her feel comfortable to attend. After Diane came to Club the staff worked attentively with her, trying their best to keep her entertained and motivated and creating a meaningful and productive experience for her.
About a month later, everything changed. Diane began to adore the people at Club and was even excited to attend. She was so happy that she would participate in any activity and was grateful to be a part of the group. She started laying out her clothes the night before in anticipation. It wasn’t long before Diane had formed a special connection with another lady, Hazel in her group. The two ladies told the staff that they were so excited about their friendship they needed to have more time together. So, Diane and Hazel arranged to go out together one nigh. And with the help of Dave, the two were able to watch a show and have dinner together. Diane’s son Dave is very thankful for the Club staff and the work they have done for his mom that truly helped him too.
You’re giving comfort
“I would rather have love than my memory if given a choice.”
I sat with my mom in a room across from a social worker, Corinne, who was a perfect stranger to us. The room was filled with books and looking around, I tried to mask the fear on my face and plant a pleasant smile across it. My mother was recently diagnosed and our world as we knew it came crashing down.
Since her diagnosis I find myself making lists… lists of questions, lists of things to look up, lists of appointments to make. By far the hardest part is watching her sadness and her fear. My whole life she’s been the one I go to for comfort and advice. Now, the tables have turned and I feel the weight of that.
During our meeting, we listened and I tried to take in the information and understand it. I wasn’t surprised to learn my mom was feeling this loss of identity in her diagnosis and she felt defeated. I’ll never forget Corinne’s response to that, she said, “for every loss, we have to look at what remains.”
In that moment it hit me like a ton of bricks. Through my mom’s diagnosis, she’s still been my mom and given me and my family a lifetime of memories and she continues to do this in her own way. I took a moment in our meeting to share how I saw this happening. Each time she visits her grandchildren she creates a new memory. I reminded her that my daughter, Lily brings her grandma present each time. And Lily will carry that memory with her for her entire life.
I said, “mom you may not remember Lily’s gifts, but she will carry your memory, your impact with her always.”
My mom paused and replied, “I guess, I would rather have love than my memory if given a choice.”
If you've given a gift or are thinking about it
Give the gift of comfort, friendship and a community of support this holiday season. When you give to the Alzheimer Society of Calgary, you create turning point moments and transformational change for local people impacted by dementia.
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