The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba is starting off the year drawing attention to the 22,000 Manitobans who are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, and the people who support them.
"(Alzheimer’s disease) is becoming more prevalent as we age," said Julie Hockley, senior manager of the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba in Westman.
"There’s still a lot of stigma surrounding it …We’re really just trying to encourage people to understand that somebody being diagnosed with dementia is still the same person they were. They’ve just been diagnosed with a disease."
With January being Alzheimer Awareness Month, Hockley hopes to normalize the disease.
"If people are uneducated on what it means … it can be very scary," Hockley said.
This year, the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba has partnered with Rachel Herron, a professor at Brandon University, on a variety of research projects specifically aimed at the caregivers of people with dementia, Hockley said.
"It is so important because not often that we have projects focused on the caregiver — they get lost," Hockley said. "(Herron) is looking at tackling how caregivers experience the stress of caregiving and what’s missing — what are the gaps in our Westman community and how can we best fill those gaps … It’s going really well and I think we’re going to see some really neat advances coming out of that."
Hockley said it’s the first time they will have research of that kind, and it will allow them to hopefully support caregivers more going forward.
"The caregivers in our community are not getting enough help," Hockley said. "We know that 43 per cent of any population is in some way caring for somebody or affected by dementia in some way. It’s a pretty high stat."
In addition to fundraising, Hockley said she also hopes more people will volunteer.
"One of the big drives I have for (this year) is to increase our volunteer base, and our volunteers are really what helps run this program," Hockley said. "The funding is important, but equally important is manpower or woman power."
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