Gathering Support

Seeing an individual struggle with dementia can be a scary and frustrating experience. These two Calgary programs help care partners navigate their way through their loved one’s dementia, both from a practical and emotional perspective.

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1 | Carewest’s Living With Dementia

Living with Dementia is a program designed both for people with dementia and for those caring for them. It is offered by Carewest, a Calgary-based long-term care and rehabilitation provider. Those participating in the program meet weekly from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for 12 consecutive weeks. The program admits 12 pairs at a time and is offered on an ongoing basis. Those with dementia take part in recreational and therapy programming, while their care partners meet with staff and offer each other peer support. The care partners spend time learning and discussing topics ranging from dealing with loss to navigating health-care resources so they can better understand their partner’s dementia. 

“When our care partners first start the program, they may not be completely aware of the brain processes that are having an impact on their loved ones,” says program coordinator Sue Jose. “By the end of the 12 weeks, they’re better equipped to understand what is happening and have more coping skills.”

Those interested in the Living with Dementia program can call 403-640-6480 for more information.

2 | Southwood Young Onset Dementia Group

Dementia always has a huge impact on families, but when the person diagnosed is younger than average, the disease can be particularly devastating. The Southwood Young Onset Dementia Group was formed in 2011 to offer support to the families of people with dementia under the age of 65. The group, sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories, meets twice a month at the Southwood United Church in two rooms. One room is for those with dementia, and the other is for family care partners. The people with dementia spend time together, sharing their personal stories, while the care partners meet to discuss the particular challenges of dementia care at a young age. 

“It’s a whole different set of challenges for those families,” says Mare Donly, who co-facilitates the group with her partner, Sharon Thurston. “They sometimes still have kids at home, which adds a whole different dimension.”

For more information, prospective participants can call organizer Patricia Dehaeck at 403-283-9537.