Alzheimer’s Walk on Sunday

Syd­ney fam­ily shares its ex­pe­ri­ences.

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY JEREMY FRASER jeremy.fraser@cb­post.com

When Paul Whe­lan and his fam­ily found out their fa­ther had de­men­tia it was a shock­ing time in their lives.

“It was an emo­tional time for all of us,” said Whe­lan. “It was quite a shock. You never re­ally ex­pect it by any means.”

Brian Whe­lan was di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia four years ago. The fam­ily started notic­ing a change in Whe­lan after his wife Su­san died in 2012.

“For a while you chaulk it up as just be­ing old age, be­ing for­get­ful and just for­get­ting things,” said Paul Whe­lan. “When he was di­ag­nosed it gave the fam­ily some light as to what was go­ing on through all the prob­lems he was hav­ing, at least there was a med­i­cal con­di­tion.”

Whe­lan said his fa­ther started for­get­ting things.

“I first no­ticed it when he would come to visit, he would go to the wrong house, he would go to my pre­vi­ous ad­dress,” said Whe­lan. “He went through the test­ing and it showed that he had de­men­tia. I don’t know if he re­ally knew (why) he was get­ting tested.”

Brian Whe­lan was well known for his work in the com­pos­ing room at the Cape Bre­ton Post. He started work­ing for the news­pa­per in the 1960s, be­fore re­tir­ing in 2001.

Whe­lan is cur­rently a pa­tient at Har­bour­stone En­hanced Care in Syd­ney River, where he has lived for the past year. The fam­ily was forced to put him in the nurs­ing home after it be­came dif­fi­cult to care for him in his own home.

Paul Whe­lan said it was tough putting his fa­ther in the nurs­ing home.

“It’s a shock, it’s a big eye opener when you walk in to the nurs­ing home and see ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on in there,” he said.

“It’s the per­fect place for him, but it still doesn’t make it any eas­ier on the fam­ily.”

Although at times it’s tough for the fam­ily to start a con­ver­sa­tion with Whe­lan, there is one thing that helps.

“The funny thing is when you bring up the old days of work­ing at the Cape Bre­ton Post, when you bring in some of the names of peo­ple that he worked with, it seems he comes out, not by any means back to his old self again, but he bright­ens right up,” said Paul Whe­lan.

In Canada, 564,000 peo­ple are cur­rently liv­ing with de­men­tia. In 15 years, the Alzheimer So­ci­ety of Canada ex­pects that num­ber to grow to 937,000.

Ac­cord­ing to the so­ci­ety,

25,000 new cases of de­men­tia are di­ag­nosed each year. They also say 56,000 Cana­di­ans with de­men­tia are be­ing cared for in hos­pi­tals, even though it’s not an ideal lo­ca­tion for this type of care.

The Alzheimer So­ci­ety of Nova Sco­tia will host its an­nual Walk

for Alzheimer’s on Sunday in Syd­ney. The event will be­gin at Cen­tre 200 with doors open­ing at 12:30 p.m. and par­tic­i­pants leav­ing for the five-kilo­me­tre walk at 2 p.m. Money raised from the event goes to sup­port pro­grams and ser­vices de­signed for Nova Sco­tians liv­ing with Alzheimer’s dis­ease or de­men­tia, and their care­givers.

Whe­lan en­cour­ages res­i­dents to at­tend and sup­port the event.

“Def­i­nitely sup­port the cause be­cause it’s an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion in Cape Bre­ton, it’s good to have the aware­ness brought to the fore­front be­cause of that,” said Whe­lan. “I think govern­ment needs to take no­tice of our ag­ing pop­u­la­tion and help out more.”

Other walks are sched­uled across the prov­ince. For more in­for­ma­tion on the an­nual walks visit www.walk­foralzheimers.ca.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Brian Whe­lan is pic­tured with his grand­daugh­ter Hol­lie dur­ing an Easter weekend visit. Whe­lan was di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia four years ago and is cur­rently a res­i­dent at Har­bour­stone En­hanced Care in Syd­ney River.

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