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Alzheimer Society of BC discusses how to prepare for impact of emergencies on people affected by dementia

Deal with dementia, disaster

In the summer of 2023, Allison Knittig found herself glued to the news and her phone as she waited for the latest emergency response update during the most destructive wildfire season recorded in B.C. Knittig was concerned for her father-in-law, Ron, who had to evacuate to Salmon Arm. Ron is living with dementia in long-term care and evacuation meant relocating to a new environment he was unfamiliar with, without his usual supports in place for three weeks.

The evacuation was hard on Ron, but it was just as challenging for his family, who were left wondering and worrying. What if he didn’t have enough clothes and personal items? What if he was agitated because his routine had been affected? What if Salmon Arm was hit with a wildfire too? This was just a glimpse of the challenges Knittig and her husband faced while caring for someone living with the disease.

When Knittig isn’t caring for her children or supporting her husband, who is Ron’s primary caregiver, she’s leading the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Minds in Motion, a fitness and social program for people in the early stages of dementia to attend with a caregiver. “Minds in Motion is a great way to connect with others on the journey,” Knittig says. “It made me realize I’m not alone.”

On Feb. 29, Knittig will share an inspiring speech on her lived experience at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Breakfast to Remember fundraising event. She will be joined by West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund, Better Group CEO Kyle Simourd and UBC nursing professor Dr. Jennifer Baumbusch for a panel discussion on emergency preparedness and the impact on people living with dementia. Baumbusch studies the dynamics of caregiving in an aging society through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Breakfast to Remember is an opportunity for Kelowna’s business and community leaders to come together and help raise dementia awareness. “The number of people diagnosed with dementia in B.C. is growing and we’re seeing an increase in caregivers who are providing care,” Alzheimer Society of B.C chief development officer Cathryn France says. “It’s always inspiring to see businesses come together to help change the future for dementia, as well as learn how they can further support their colleagues who are balancing work and care.”

The fundraising event raises critical funds to support the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s programs and services, including the First Link Dementia Helpline, education workshops, support groups and Minds in Motion. “It’s disheartening and challenging when communication and the relationship with your loved one become strained due to the effects of dementia,” Knittig says. “I called the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and immediately felt more at peace as I spoke with people who gave me strategies and advice.”

Join Knittig at Breakfast to Remember and help change the future for people affected by dementia. It will be held on Thursday, Feb. 29, from 7-9 a.m. at Coast Capri Hotel, which is located at 1171 Harvey Ave. in Kelowna.

Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island communities will also have the opportunity to help ensure people affected by dementia are not alone at Breakfast to Remember events in Vancouver on March 7 and Victoria on March 13.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit BreakfastToRemember.ca.

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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