Smiths Falls town councillors, both male and female, are sporting matching neckties to show their support for Alzheimer Month in the region.
Louise Noble, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, attended a Jan. 8 meeting to brief council members on this month’s theme, the need to end the stigma associated with a diagnosis of dementia.
She also encouraged members to make a visible show of support by purchasing a colourful blue tie decorated with forget-me-nots, the official Alzheimer Society flower.
The campaign to sell ties (at $25 each) has been dubbed the “Tie One on For Alzheimer’s Campaign.” Ties will be on sale at an upcoming Perth Blue Wings game set for Jan. 19.
There are about 1,800 residents of Lanark County who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Noble told councillors. Most of them have a care partner, often a spouse, she added, meaning that the disease impacts many more people than just the victims themselves.
“It doesn’t just affect the 1,800,” said Noble. “It multiplies.”
Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can affect relatively young people.
“It is not an old person’s disease,” said Noble. “It can be very relevant to someone who is still working, still driving, and very concerned about sharing their diagnosis.”
In the future, dementia threatens to impose a huge cost on society. “It’s coming as we age,” said Noble.
The Alzheimer Society has an office in Lanark County and runs two adult day programs each week, with the South East Local Health Integration Network as its primary funder.
The society also operates an overnight stay program to provide relief to caregivers. The program has only three available beds, and operates almost every weekend.
Another program operated by the local society is the Blue Umbrella, a one-hour education program for representatives of businesses, local governments and other organizations. The program offers training in communication, observing behaviour, and how to help. After completing training, organizations and given a blue umbrella decal to promote their “dementia-friendly” status.