Among serious subjects and moving stories about family members losing their mental abilities, brightly colored gems spilled the tables at the Athabasca Senior Center on April 3, while the Athabasca Extendicare held its second night of dementia education.
About 34 people became aware of dementia, its progression and how to interact with people through these progressions.
The Extendicare administrator Joan Cody gave a presentation, bringing her personal and family experiences into her speech. He spoke to the public about people with dementia feeling valued, noting that health care providers also have to deal with stress and make sure their relationships or work are not affected.
In an interview, Cody said the first event was held in March 2017 and she thought this year went well. He said he was happy to provide education on dementia and some daily support.
"Even if we reach only 25, 30 people, we have reached someone who needed it, and this is the most important part," he said. "And to know that I'm not alone."
Part of the evening was dedicated to the work of Teepa Snow, who is a trainer and counselor for dementia patients. Snow uses the "gems" model to help identify brain changes, and the cognitive model recognizes that everyone's abilities can change in a moment, according to Snow's website.
A "sapphire", for example, means "optimal cognition, healthy brain" and the person characterized as such "can be flexible in thinking and appreciating more perspectives", according to the model.
The model also states that a "pearl" refers to "hidden inside a shell", where "the personality survives, although all other abilities are minimal; Understanding the input takes time: to go slow and simplify for success. "
Athabasca resident Bunny Myrtle participated in this year's event in 2017. She said she had contact with dementia and her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and dementia.
"It was informative so, and I'm finding that now as things progress, I need more than those memories," he said. "And we need, I think, to tap into the community … At that moment it was for a reason. Now it's another reason, and it's progressing."
Myrtle said he found value in the event, and brought friends and family with him.
"My son and his wife, and then other friends who are going through all this, I brought them all with me tonight to make sure they were aware," he said. "Because even if they can go home with one or two things that can help them cope with their situation, it's very valuable."
He also said that community events for the elderly helped his family with things like their financial decisions, preparing for retirement and dealing with dementia and arthritis.
"The programs in the community have been really useful," he said. "Only all the things an elder faces."
Cody said that Extendicare would like to continue holding these events. He said the group was diverse and noticed that some members of the public took care of their loved ones in the local facility while others were not.
"Even if they learn one thing, even if they learn a small key," he said. "Even if they now know that they are not alone."
He also stated that people who missed the event can visit the Alzheimer Society of Canada website at www.alzheimer.ca or the Teepa Snow website at www.teepasnow. com for more information.