Sidney residents Geoff and Annemarie Travers with Geoff’s sister Kathy. (Courtesy Alzheimer Society of B.C.)

National campaign ‘Yes. I live with dementia’ aims to improve Alzheimer understanding

Sidney couple’s Camino adventure raises awareness for the cause

Building awareness to address stigma was the primary objective of Geoff and Annemarie Travers’ Camino for Alzheimer’s Awareness.

Last fall the Sidney couple walked 900 km together from near Montpellier, France to Lugrono, Spain, and Geoff walked an additional 600 km westward to Santiago de Compostela. The experienced distance walkers purposely chose a longer distance as a reflection of the long and arduous journey experienced by people living with dementia – and their caregivers.

The Sidney couple raised more than $11,500 in support of people affected by the disease.

RELATED: Alzheimer’s Awareness campaign challenges stigma for Greater Victorians living with dementia

Geoff and Annemarie were inspired by personal experiences of the disease. Geoff’s sister Kathy lives with dementia, and her journey motivated the couple to connect with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. first for education, then to support others. As well as the Camino for Alzheimer’s Awareness, Annemarie is also a volunteer facilitator for a caregiver support group in Sidney.

In addition to capturing the beauty of the countryside, they focused on the parallels between the challenges of the walk and the challenges experienced by people living with dementia and their caregivers.

Some days it was difficult climbs or sudden changes in terrain. Other days they struggled with language or being lost and alone. They shared Kathy’s personal insights into the disease and found that the more they opened doors and engaged people in conversation about dementia, the more helpful they could be in addressing people’s fears and concerns.

For Geoff and Annemarie, the Camino for Alzheimer’s Awareness reinforced the importance of being open about one’s experience with dementia in order to change that experience.

“It’s best if you talk about it,” Annemarie says. “Understanding the challenges, being open about them and talking with others is the best way to deal with them.”

RELATED: End stigma to celebrate Alzheimer Awareness Month

That’s the premise of the Alzheimer Society’s continuing nationwide campaign: Yes. I live with dementia. Let me help you understand.

The campaign kicked into high gear this month, which is recognized as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. It showcases the unique and diverse stories of individuals living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia across Canada. The aim of the campaign is to change attitudes toward the disease and erase the stigma.

“We’re turning the conversation over to the experts,” says Gabriela Townsend, support and education co-ordinator at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Greater Victoria Resource Centre in Saanich. “We believe sharing the stories of Canadians living with dementia will fuel a more open, supportive and inclusive dialogue about dementia and give confidence to others who have this disease to live their best lives.”

Research shows that stigma associated with dementia is rampant. In a survey commissioned by the Alzheimer Society last year, one in five Canadians said they would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia while one in five admitted to using derogatory or stigmatizing language about dementia.

RELATED: Alzheimer Society of B.C. brings free family resources to Greater Victoria

In addition to helping Canadians better understand dementia, Alzheimer’s Awareness Month provides a platform for people like Geoff and Annemarie to broadly share their learning and experiences.

Visit the campaign’s dedicated website, ilivewithdementia.ca, to learn more about the people getting on with their life in spite of dementia, get tips on how to help end stigma, test their own attitudes towards the disease and download other useful resources.



c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Saanich plugs into $100,000 government grant for 20 new EV chargers

Six chargers to be installed at four municipal parks

Greater Victoria housing market sees positive bump in June

Sales up by 76.8 per cent compared to May

Owners say loss of parking pushes businesses to the brink

New Penny Farthing patio ‘will be like New Orleans, or Las Vegas’

Saanich woman says sexual assault was dismissed by police because of her ‘body language’

Patrol officers investigate sexual assault files, make decisions on what goes to Crown counsel

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight in Victoria

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

Most Read