In his long-standing career as a speechwriter and public speaker, Brian Taylor was known for leaping across rooms, cracking jokes and coaching the Calgary Stampede princesses. Taylor was diagnosed with dementia in 2014 and his sense of humour has continued to serve him well. The 85-year-old shares how his signature positive attitude has helped shape his experience living with the disease, including spreading levity at the Alzheimer Society of Calgary’s Club 36, where he’s been a member since 2014, or spending time at home with his wife, Rita.
I ’d always have humour in the speeches I wrote. I believe it’s essential. I suppose I use humour as a distraction from my diagnosis, which I don’t really know about because I got it second- hand from my wife.
Normally I don’t think it gets me down. Once in a while I’ll be looking for something or I know I’m going to make coffee, but then I don’t know whether I made it or not. Sometimes the confusion appears to clear up or I take more time with what I’m doing. If you’re rushing around, it gets overwhelming and something has got to go and it’s usually something in your mind. But that’s enough about the negative things.
I enjoy quite a bit about my life now. I’m very rarely depressed. There’s got to be a reason for it, like when I lost the car. I’m driven around now by my wife, which I deserve and I cover my eyes. But I‘d be lost without her help. There, I’ve admitted it.
I go to Club 36 twice a week. The staff is most anxious to help. What a difference it makes when you can just talk to people, and whether they agree or not at least they will listen and nod.
You can see a lot of serious and sour faces at Club 36, but I’m willing to talk to them about it. I’ve got a sense of humour I can use to relate to people who are looking sad and don’t know what to do about it. The first laugh is always the hard one, and if they sustain being miserable I’ll come back at it again but I won’t give up. I’m the kind of guy I have enough humorous lines that I can go on for weeks. And I do. [ ]