Why they walk: Remember the person, forget the stigma

Why they walk: Remember the person, forget the stigma
Alzheimer Society of Cornwall and District 11th annual Walk For Memories. Stock photo.

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – After 54 years of marriage, now Mary Lou Crochet has taken on the new role of caregiver for husband Harold, who was diagnosed with dementia late last fall.

Harold led the way at the Alzheimer Society of Cornwall and District 11th annual Walk For Memories in the salons of the Cornwall Civic Complex on Sunday, Jan. 18.

“Today is a celebration for the people living with dementia and their caregivers,” said Sharyn Duffey, the society’s volunteer and campaign coordinator.

Despite low attendance compared to last year due to outbreaks at local nursing homes forcing multiple teams to cancel, nearly 30 people participated helping to raise thousands of dollars for research and support services. The final tally will be released next week. In 2014, the walk raised over $17,000.

The local branch covers Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Prescott-Russell as well as Akwesasne.

Shelley Vaillancourt, the society’s executive director, said there are 2,400 people living with Alzheimer’s disease across Cornwall and SDG.

The society’s data also shows that women make up 72 per cent of the Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease and 70 per cent of caregivers.

“We want people to be aware and not have a stigma attached to dementia,” said Duffey.

Through the beginning stages of Harold’s battle with dementia, Mary Lou has been his support system.

“It hit home when the doctor told me he had to report him to the Ministry of Transportation and that he would be losing his license,” she said. “It’s hard. I try to put myself in his situation and how he might feel.”

Seeking help from the society has opened a lot of doors to help her cope with her husband’s changing behaviour.

“It’s great to sit in the support group and talk to other caregivers and hear the things we’re all going through so I can try to understand the situation and learn how to handle it,” said Mary Lou.

Another indoor walk will take place in Alexandria next Sunday at the Tim Hortons Dome.

For more information, visit www.alzheimer.ca/cornwall.

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