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'See people with dementia beyond their diagnosis': Major fundraiser for Alzheimer's Calgary takes place Oct. 8


The IG Wealth Management Alzheimer Walk and Run in Calgary is celebrating 30 years with its latest event on Sunday.

The annual event is the largest fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Society of Calgary (Alzheimer's Calgary) and Ali Cada, adult day and creative program director for the society's Club 36, says last year's raised more than $290,000.

"It gives us the opportunity to create awareness about the disease," Cada said.

"It also allows us to invite the community to this wonderful event."

Club 36 is attached to AgeCare Seton in southeast Calgary and has 12 members who gather a few days a week.

Club 36 benefits from funds raised at the walk and run.

Cada says members participate in things like exercise, baking and arts programs that focus on the present rather than the past.

"We try to get into the real world and be with them and whatever their reality at that time," Cada said.

"Hopefully, it's your reality as well but the biggest thing is that we need to be mindful of where they're at because it changes every single day -- every single hour, for some people."

Cada says the arts programs at Club 36 are great tools that help staff see a member's true identity.

"It allows us to have a glimpse of who the person is, even for just a short period of time and at Club 36, we capitalize on that," he said.

"Alzheimer's Calgary strives to provide opportunities for people to see people with dementia beyond their diagnosis."

Jim Johnstone was diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago and his wife Georgia is his primary caregiver.

"It's hard but it's doable. Jim is very compliant and kind and gracious. There's been no anger, bitterness, no stuff like that, so it makes it easier for me," Georgia said.

"This is a great place to come. It gives Jim an outlet to meet other people and just be active for the two days that he's here and it gives me a break to go and do things that I need to get done, so it's a win-win."

Georgia says Jim doesn't usually recall what's taken place while he's in the program but he enjoys it.

"I'm sort of a social being anyway," Jim said.

"I just love talking to people and I love it here. It's like a second home."

Ray Brydon has lived with Alzheimer's for five years and his wife Carol says it's been hard watching his memory fail.

"When I tell him something, he doesn't remember it," she said.

"It makes me kind of sad that he doesn't remember things like my birthday, Valentine's Day, when he was always so good about all that before but that's OK. It's alright."

She says one of the most challenging aspects of the disease is the stigma surrounding it.

"Ray is still Ray and I want people to know that he's still the same person that he always was," she said.

"I see people talk down to people with dementia and I saw it happen to Ray, like he was a little kid, and I want people to know, you don't have to do that."

Linda Campbell was diagnosed more than a year ago and her husband George talked to her about coming to Club 36.

"It wasn't something that she thought she needed," George said.

He says life is different at home now, managing his wife's disease, but it's something that is a little easier with the help of programs hosted by Alzheimer's Calgary.

You can learn more about the walk and run at Top Stories

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