Alzheimer cuts can run deep among the elderly

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CORNWALL, Ontario - The pain of dementia can be found all over Marian Burgess' face – but it's often hidden behind a toothy grin and genuine personality.

The elderly Cornwall woman faces the daily frustration of trying to remember the little things in life that we all take for granted.

The time...day of the week...a conversation that took place just minutes ago - all of them are something that Marian struggles with.

Of course, the smile on her face and the cheerful way she speaks hides much of that, but Marian's dementia battle is ongoing.

"Right now they tell me something...and then the next day it's gone," she said.

Marian has been married to her husband Albert for 57 years ("Prince Albert", as she affectionately calls him) and the couple have been accessing the services of the Alzheimer Society since 2009.

It was in that year that Marian proudly walked through the door and announced that she was a dementia patient, and was seeking resources to help.

Caseworker Laurie Kennedy said often things don't go as smoothly. Often dementia patients are referred by health-care professionals, and sometimes the patients aren't even aware they have a problem.

"You do get self-conscious," Kennedy said.

The Burgesses are just a small part of 883 families that have accessed programming offered by the Alzheimer Society in the last nine months.

Marian said the programming has been helpful, if not tinged with just a touch of melancholy.

"When I leave, sometimes I forget what we talked about," she said. "But I feel better."

Kennedy said that's often because the brain stores its memories differently than it stores feelings.

"When they leave they can sometimes feel lighter," she said.

January marks Alzheimer Disease awareness month. Mayor Bob Kilger signed a proclamation to that end recently, and the local society office has a "Walk for Memories" planned for Jan. 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Cornwall Civic Complex to raise money and awareness for the ailment.

More information can be found here.

Geographic location: Ontario

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