The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is on a mission to make communities across the province more dementia-friendly, and Whistlerites will have a chance to learn how at an event this week.
On Wednesday, April 29 at 2 p.m., the Dementia Friends Workshop takes place at the Whistler Public Library, and is open to all those interested in learning how to recognize signs of memory problems and how best to support people in the community with dementia.
“We are working with municipalities, professionals, corporations and volunteers to better support people with dementia through our Dementia-Friendly Communities initiative, and we are thrilled to be able to work with the community in Whistler,” said Maria Howard, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. in a release.
Dementia is a general term for a major decline in mental ability that interferes with daily life, and is not a specific disease. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 per cent of dementia cases.
According to the society, 60 per cent of people with dementia live by themselves or with a caregiver. And while many live well in the community for some time, staying involved in the activities they once enjoyed can become more challenging as symptoms worsen.
Add to that the social stigma that often surrounds dementia, and the difficulties of maintaining a reliable support system and active daily lifestyle in the community are evident.
“People with dementia often face challenges when going shopping, doing their banking, eating out at a restaurant or going to their local post office,” the release continued. “They may also have difficulties using transportation, going on holidays, maintaining social contact or enjoying hobbies out in the community.”
But with the right education and tools, people can make their community a safer and more inclusive place for those with dementia, and that’s ultimately where this workshop comes in.
Society representatives will also be meeting with Whistler council members to discuss how to make communities more dementia friendly, as well as to highlight the work of two Whistler locals, Erika Durlacher and Pierre Marc Jette, who are fundraising to support the organization.
Durlacher, whose husband lives with Alzheimer’s, plans to climb Kilimanjaro with her daughter this September with the goal of raising $10,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society.
Last month Jette set the new world record for most vertical feet skied in a year, and plans to build on that tally this summer on a glacier-skiing trip to Chile. So far Jette has raised nearly $13,000 for Alzheimer’s research and education initiatives.
To attend the Dementia Friends Workshop, RSVP in person at the library or by calling 604-935-8435.