Last week MAREP hosted our annual Alzheimer Awareness event at Luther Village on the Park. A representative of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) spoke to the progress being made on the Ontario Dementia Strategy. A panel of people with dementia and a care partner discussed their priorities and suggestions, followed by the presentation of this year’s Partners in Dementia award. The event was live-streamed for the first time ever. (If you missed it, Part 1 and Part 2 are both posted on our Facebook page).
Guest Speaker Michael Robertson of the MOHLTC kicked the event off, stating that the ministry’s vision is for people with dementia to be treated with respect and to have access to the necessary information and services. Working with people with dementia and their care partners has been an invaluable part of this process, and thanks to ODAG’s input, the MOHLTC has shifted their language from “caregivers” to “care partners.” The dementia strategy is currently being drafted, and the MOHLTC anticipates it to be released in 2017.
The panel included Mary Beth Wighton, Phyllis Fehr, and Carol Johanneson (all of whom are living with dementia), and Guy Chadsey, (who has been his wife’s primary care partner since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease). A variety of topics were discussed and each panel member had unique and valuable perspectives. Johannesson stated that “transportation, memory clinics, and the Alzheimer Society” enabled her to live well, and Fehr highlighted the importance of training healthcare professionals in appropriate dementia diagnosis; doctors should be patient and positive. Wighton advocated the need for coordinated care (to learn more, you can read her latest blog post). Chadsey emphasized the importance of flexibility for care partners in the workplace and the benefits of Dementia Friendly Communities. He reiterated the complexity of the dementia journey, stating “I am a better person because of my wife’s dementia… I hate the disease, but I love her.”
Finally, Monique and Gerard Laderoute were presented with the Partners in Dementia award.
A big thank you to Dr. James Rush, Dean of the Applied Health Sciences Faculty at the University of Waterloo, for his opening remarks, and to Lisa Loiselle, Associate Director of Research at MAREP, for facilitating the panel discussion. We would also like to thank Michael Robertson and Adam Morrison of the MOHLTC, our panel members, our sponsors, and everyone who attended the event (in person and over Facebook). Thank you for your valuable insights and thoughtful questions. We hope to see you all at our Alzheimer Awareness event next January!