Vicki Poffley, Executive Director of the Alzheimer Society, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington addressed the Rotary Club of Cataraqui-Kingston, Tuesday September 18th. Below are notes on her talk and the ensuing discussion.
 

There has been an amazing growth in social awareness and in the number of individuals to whom The Alzheimer Society provides service. Often for talks such as this she brings a family—Bob and Laurel—to share their story, but 7am is too early! Laurel is the caregiver and her husband Bob has dementia. They say hello and may come to visit on some other occasion.

The Alzheimer Society in Kingston was started in 1981 by volunteers. Some founders are still involved. Last year recognized need for extended services in KFL&A; there are now satellites in Sharbot Lake, Northbrook, and Napanee. People shouldn’t have to drive an hour for services; services should be available close to home. The board has generously supported this expansion. Funding comes from grants, the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and fund raising.

Services Offered

  • 1-1 counseling to families, in many situations
  • drop-in program. Dementia support is very taxing, usually 24-7, and doesn’t end when the care recipient moves into long-term care. Ensure that everything we do is done with a person with dementia, not for. Keep life normal as much as possible.
  • Public education awareness
  • Dementia-friendly blue umbrella
  • Sharon Lewis provides training to staff or business. Allows people to have ability to interact with people with dementia. Diagnoses are occurring younger and younger; it’s very important for employers to support their diagnosed employees so they can continue working, but in a supportive environment. After training, workplaces get a blue umbrella for door, indicating a dementia-friendly environment. A decal is also available.
  • Finding-your-way program. 1 of 3 people with dementia are at risk of losing their way. In Kingston, we are very fortunate, About 12-15 individuals with dementia go missing each year but are found within a few hours, usually safe, if somewhat disoriented. In the past year—working with City of Kingston police; in January launched a vulnerable sector registry. Hope to pilot it with dementia and autism.
 

If you know someone with memory issues, you don’t need a diagnosis to avail of our Alzheimer Society’s services.

License may be suspended; fearful if in rural area.

 

Major fund-raiser starts Friday. Coffee break. All of McDonald’s locations in Kingston and Napanee, 7am-3pm. Knowledgeable people will be at those locations to answer questions. Last year they raised $6000. The goal this year is $10000. 50 cents on any coffee goes to the Alzheimer Society.

 

Discussion

Several Rotarians were very interested in the workplace training program and many questions followed. Vicki would gladly return to speak with us again.

 

Q: Do you have numbers in the area you look after of people with dementia?

A: about 4300 with diagnosis. Probably at least as many again are undiagnosed. Maybe reach 20-25% of this with diagnosis. Would like to meet needs of clients from lower socio-economic standing. Middle to upper class families tend to use their services, seek services faster. Partner with Kingston community health centers, hopefully.

Q: In 10 yrs growth?

A: Yes, and change. 72% of those diagnosed are women, who tend to live longer. When she started, 75% of those seeking services were men caring for their wives. Now that has flipped.

Q: A friend who lives with a partner—un-diagnosed time is very scary. Is there a phone number they can call?

A: Yes. Can reach out to our office. Can provide them with information, including how to get a diagnosis. Will help guide them to that. Ease their fears and uncertainty. Stigma still a big part of the disease. Better able to provide care once diagnosis is done.

Q: Training for businesses. As business person, we deal with undiagnosed people. Would your training help with that?

A: I would encourage you to get the training done. For example, we were buying different house and got an offer from someone of questionable cognition. We told our realtor that we wouldn’t accept the offer without family present.

Q: Dementia has many diseases. Does your society focus on all?

A: Anyone with cognitive impairment. Kingston was one of first Alzheimer’s Societies established.

Q: In dealing with client base, are you able to distinguish among various forms of dementia?

A: Can, but no need. Meet individuals where they are at. Focus on needs of individual.

Q: In Kingston, building retirement homes. The moment a person is diagnosed, they’re out. What’s in the future for long-term care?

A: Different opinion. Retirement homes now have assisted care. Homes with early to moderate situation, will accept. Landscape is changing. New homes being built are eimentia-friendly. Can be quite costly, so need to address issue of more affordable homes and care.

Q: Comment on long-term are. Lucky, e.g., Rideaucrest has excellent dementia facilities. Sometimes encounter people who shouldn’t be driving a car. Difficult situation for employees. Would training be useful?

A: Yes. Driving is very risky with cognitive impairment. Training will help you deflect situations where you encounter people who you feel shouldn’t be driving. Could also look at offering to take the person home. If extremely concerned, call 911 before they leave, to assist. You don’t want it on your conscious if something happens.

Q: Is dementia a subset of Alzheimer’s?

A: About 150 variations of dementia, Alzheimer’s is one of them.

Q: Is Alzheimer’s happening earlier?

A: Gave example of diagnosed Japanese man at age 39. Still works for Toyota. They have adapted his job. In Japan, he would have lost his ability to support his family. Youngest clients I have worked with are in their early 40s. Lately individuals living with illnesses such as Downs Syndrome are living longer. Some are being diagnosed in their early 30s.

Q: Level of funding of Society?

A: 55% from LHIN. 45% from our fundraising. Some in-memoriam and bequests. Two golf tournaments. Budget with 2 new programs (partnered with Mt. Sinai, education program), and funding for first Link. Total budget about $750,000. Staff of 11 people. 3 are part-time.

Q: I bought some olive oil from a person fund-raising. Is this a fundraise for the Alzheimer’s Society?

A: Andy Papadakis (of My Greek Grocery) sells olive oil that he brings in from Crete. $3 from each bottle and $5 from each tin comes in to the Alzheimer Society.

Q: Coffee just this Friday?

A: Yes, including donations made at McDonald’s locations.

Q: Know very little about it. Is Alzheimer’s fatal?

A: Yes. Brain shrinks, gaps develop; eventually brain shuts down body (organs, heart attack). One difficulty in getting it recognized—often if cause of death is registered as a heart attack it may be due to Alzheimer’s. 5-7% genetic. Can do testing for predisposition; blood test, for gene.

Q: From standpoint of finance, does the Provincial Government treat dementia as a health problem?

A: It does now, due to advocacy. Former government allocated several million dollars for dementia strategy. Hopes current government will see value and continue that program.

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