A Baby Boomer shares the natural byproduct of a fertile mind
January 21, 2010
MY FRIEND GORD
Gord's journey with Alzheimer's disease
“I could do this before,” I said to myself as I looked down at my Blackberry.
My name is Gord - I’m 59 years old and I’m living with Alzheimer’s disease. This is my story.
I spent most of my career in the competitive cargo shipping industry. In my early 50s I found myself increasingly anxious about things that did not bother me before and found it difficult to cope with the stress, the complexity and the fast-pace. I started taking anxiety medication to help calmed me down, but I didn’t improve.
Thinking it was excessive stress, my wife Brenda and I moved to a small town to adopt a slower pace. As part of our new life we bought a coffee shop. While running the shop my anxiety continued and even heightened – I had trouble with orders and cash deposits and generally coping with the demands of life. In my confusion, I began to lose my confidence.
I questioned myself and knew I wasn’t fine.
We turned to a psychologist for help. After a thorough assessment, he told me “you’ve either been hit over the head with a blunt object or you have serious dementia.” I took this finding back to my doctor and after more tests I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Brenda and I were shocked. I was only 57 years old. Our first reactions were fear and sadness then anger and disbelief. Anger at how our lives and dreams were to change and disbelief that this could happen at our age – we’re too young -- so we thought.
We went to the Alzheimer Society of Calgary for guidance and learned from a recent study that Alzheimer's disease is the second most feared disease among Canadians over the age of 45.
We also learned that dementia is an urgent community issue and realized that your donations ensure that people within Calgary and surrounding area continue to be educated, supported, and aware of their choices.
Did you know in Calgary there are 12,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia? For each of these people there are 10-12 others who are impacted.
This is a fast growing issue with the possibility of 50 per cent more Canadians and their families facing Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia in just five years.
After battling anger and disbelief for about a year, Brenda and I are at a point now where we realize we have a role to play in helping people in similar situations. Part of this role is to help overcome the fear and stigma people have with the disease by encouraging people to live in truth.
I accept that I have Alzheimer’s disease – so do Brenda and our daughters. And we are determined to make a difference. We learned the worst thing you can do is live in fear. And the key to overcoming that fear is knowledge.
The Alzheimer Society of Calgary works with people like me, Brenda, and our family. The Society has programs for people who have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia; they support their families, their caregivers, and many groups within the community. In doing so, they provide a number of educational workshops, family consultations, support groups, and adult day support programs.
There are going to be millions of people like as we baby boomers age and it is vital to have services like those of the Alzheimer Society of Calgary in place. To sustain quality dementia care programs, the Alzheimer Society of Calgary needs your support. Please donate today.
My family and I have been dealt this Alzheimer card. Despite my diagnosis we recognize that we still have the opportunity to live a varied and vibrant life. We have good days and not so good days. But, our philosophy is to live life now and in the present – be joyfully present.
Thank you for your past contribution to the Alzheimer Society of Calgary. I strongly encourage you to continue your support. This is a vital community service that is funded with the support of people like you. Together we will make a difference.
Alzheimer Society of Calgary Ambassador
P.S.You can donate now by visiting the Alzheimer Society of Calgary website at www.AlzheimerCalgary.com. Thank you for your support.