The month of January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, with this year’s campaign focusing on the Alzheimer’s Society being the first step for family’s support, from first diagnosis throughout progression to the later stages of the disease.

Liz McLeod is the Senior Manager of Regional Services for the Alzheimer’s Society in Manitoba.  She oversees the 6 rural offices across the province, outside of Winnipeg. 

“We’d like to raise awareness about the Alzheimer’s Society and remind families who are living with dementia that there is a place to go for information and support.” explains McLeod.

Currently, there are over 23,000 Manitobans diagnosed with dementia, and that number is rising.   By 2038, that number is expected to reach 41,000 Manitobans.

“So, about 62% of Manitobans are impacted by dementia,” she shares.  “That doesn’t mean they have a diagnosis themselves, but they have a family member or a close friend with the disease.  So, a lot of people are very aware of dementia and how it affects families.  It’s a lot of people.”

“Whether it’s a person diagnosed within their family, or a friend or relative, we want them to know that we’re here for them,” she adds.

The Covid pandemic has created its own set of challenges for those living with Alzheimer’s.  “It has a negative effect on some of our folks who are a bit isolated and alone, and don’t have some of the regular activities and connections that they’re used to. So, again we can help with that,” shares McLeod.

Client support staff are easily accessible by phone, as well as virtually through zoom on a computer, so as to connect with the Alzheimer’s Society to find out more information, available resources, or obtaining support for friends and family members.

McLeod notes their call-levels are increasing as more people are reaching out.  She adds more people seem to be learning how to navigate their computers and smart devices to a greater advantage, thus being able to connect more often, even if they need a little guidance on technology, “we just help them with that and away we go!  We have nice chatty sessions.  It’s good for people to reach out!”  

“They can see what might be going on online that they could join into, maybe some education, or even some ‘minds in motion’ sessions that we host, which are kind of fun combination of socializing and games.”

Fundraising was typically one of the goals in the month of January for the Alzheimer’s Society, but again, covid restrictions have put that on hold.

85% of their funding comes from donations. They mail out donation forms and information two times each year, one of those being now in January.

“We highlight our organization in January, as another way of reminding people that we are here and we appreciate anything that they can share with us.”

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