Cof­fee breaks back: let’s talk de­men­tia

Alzheimer So­ci­ety pro­gram asks pub­lic to hold in­for­mal fundrais­ers

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NEWS - LUKE HENDRY lhendry@post­

Peo­ple with de­men­tia and their fam­i­lies need a break, and the Alzheimer So­ci­ety is hop­ing the pub­lic can help.

The so­ci­ety’s Hast­ings-Prince Ed­ward branch is ask­ing cit­i­zens and busi­nesses to hold cof­fee breaks as both a fundraiser and a chance to de­mys­tify Alzheimer’s dis­ease and de­men­tia in gen­eral.

Staff will pro­vide a bag of cof­fee, if needed, along with in­for­ma­tion kits. Vis­i­tors to each cof­fee break then pay a fee of the host’s choos­ing and can pick up in­for­ma­tion or dis­cuss de­men­tia as de­sired.

About 564,000 Cana­di­ans have de­men­tia, ac­cord­ing to the so­ci­ety, and health care and out-of-pocket costs in the coun­try are es­ti­mated to be $10.4 bil­lion. A 60 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of pa­tients and the cost is ex­pected by 2031.

While the con­di­tion can be a daunt­ing or awk­ward con­ver­sa­tion topic, Cof­fee Break fundrais­ers are a chance to share ex­pe­ri­ences in an in­for­mal way.

Lo­cal so­ci­ety fund de­vel­op­ment co-or­di­na­tor Amelia Huff­man said talk­ing about de­men­tia can re­duce its stigma.

Huff­man said there are a few dozen in the re­gion and or­ga­niz­ers are hop­ing for more home-based breaks.

Last year the pro­gram raised nearly $6,000. This year’s tar­get is more than $10,000.

All funds are used lo­cally to sup­port peo­ple with de­men­tia and their care­givers.

“We’ve in­tro­duced a few new sup­port groups, and spe­cial­ized sup­port groups, in­clud­ing one for adult chil­dren of per­sons with de­men­tia,” Huff­man said.

The sup­port groups range from for­mal ses­sions to the Me­mory Cafe, a so­cial time with less talk about the ac­tual ill­ness.

“By putting a care­giver in a sit­u­a­tion where they’re speak­ing with other care­givers, as op­posed to just some­one from the Alzheimer So­ci­ety... that re­ally helps to start the con­ver­sa­tion,” said Huff­man.

“It’s so im­por­tant for them to share their com­mon ex­pe­ri­ences and to lean on each other dur­ing this very dif­fi­cult time.

“We’ve seen a lot of re­la­tion­ships and part­ner­ships start that way in sup­port groups.”

She added peo­ple who ask for the so­ci­ety’s help re­ceive it only to the de­gree they want.

“They can choose how much they want to in­volve them­selves right now and know that when they do need those ser­vices, we’re there for them.”

There are now more than a dozen sup­port groups across the re­gion and “a lot more re­sources,” she said.

“There’s been a huge fo­cus on keep­ing peo­ple safe in our com­mu­nity.”

Rel­a­tively new ad­di­tions in­clude pro­grams de­signed to pro­tect pa­tients who may wan­der. Find­ing Your Way is an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ini­tia­tive, while Project Life­saver is­sues a ra­dio-track­ing bracelet.

It’s avail­able only in North Hast­ings and Quinte West but is be­ing con­sid­ered for Cen­tre Hast­ings.

“It’s be­ing taken on by lo­cal po­lice agen­cies as they can man­age the pro­gram,” Huff­man said, adding so­ci­ety staff are “work­ing with other po­lice agen­cies on build­ing a re­la­tion­ship.”

Huff­man said the so­ci­ety is in­creas­ingly reach­ing peo­ple in the area’s more re­mote com­mu­ni­ties as res­i­dents learn the agency, while based in Belleville, serves peo­ple across Hast­ings and Prince Ed­ward coun­ties.

“We just try to con­nect peo­ple with re­sources so that they don’t feel alone,” Huff­man said.

The so­ci­ety re­ceives 40 per cent of its an­nual bud­get from On­tario’s South East Lo­cal Health In­te­gra­tion Net­work. Staff and vol­un­teers raise the rest of the $600,000 bud­get.

“Walks were very suc­cess­ful this year,” said Huff­man. The next is the Tweed Walk for Alzheimer’s Oct. 15 at the Tweed fair­grounds. Or­ga­nized by the Ki­wa­nis Club of Tweed and var­i­ous part­ners, it’s the so­ci­ety’s first event or­ga­nized by an­other group.

In the mean­time, on Sept. 21, 50 cents from every medium and large cof­fee sold at McDon­ald’s restau­rants in Belleville, Trenton, Pic­ton and Madoc will sup­port the so­ci­ety.

More planned do­na­tions are also needed. Donors can sign up to give monthly.

To or­ga­nize a cof­fee break or to re­ceive more in­for­ma­tion on the so­ci­ety’s work or to do­nate, call 613962-0892 or visit


Amelia Huff­man of the Alzheimer So­ci­ety of Hast­ings-Prince Ed­ward pours cof­fee at the so­ci­ety's Bay View Mall of­fice in Belleville. Staff are ask­ing peo­ple to hold cof­fee break events to raise funds and aware­ness for their pro­grams. The cam­paign be­gins this month and runs un­til Jan­uary.

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