A Dementia Friendly Community Task Group of the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and Katzie Seniors Network is walking together on Saturday morning in solidarity against Alzheimer’s disease.
They will take to the parks and streets of Pitt Meadows to cap a month of fundraising.
The group have managed to raise over $3,000 for the Alzheimer Society of B.C, making them the top fundraisers for the cause in the Tri-Cities/ Ridge Meadows area.
Marissa Stalman is an active member of the group. She is a former nurse with a background in helping people with dementia, and her late grand mother suffered from vascular dementia too.
She is currently wrapping up her Master’s degree in gerontology – the study of aging – at Simon Fraser University.
Stalman said the committee – made up of professionals, care givers, people with lived experience, and academics like herself – is excited to have met its fundraising goal.
“Not only is (Alzheimer Society of B.C.) raising money to work towards a cure, but they will help take care of the seniors, and their caregivers, who will be affected by dementia in the future,” she said.
“They have been great in offering support groups to caregivers, particularly during COVID.”
Approximately 30 people took part in an Alzheimer’s walk around Downtown Maple Ridge on May 15.
“It was wonderful,” Stalman said. “The weather was on our side and people participated in a socially-distanced manner.”
One of the bright spots, the former nurse noted, was when local advocate Myrna Norman – who recently wrote a book on living with dementia – engaged with some youth in Memorial Peace Park.
“She was educating the teenagers, and they were very receptive, and very interested, so that was pretty neat,” Stalman said.
“Inter-generational activities are so critical. We really need to encourage the support of seniors by people of all ages.”
There is a stigma to Alzheimer’s disease, Stalman added.
“We want to show that people, like Myrna, can live with dementia for a long time, and still be contributing members to society – and even when those contributions change, the person is still very much a person.”
In addition to the fundraising, the group has also been advocating for support from local politicians.
Stalman said the group met with Maple Ridge – Mission MLA Bob D’Eith on Friday morning.
“We’re trying to bring awareness to the need to local Silver Alert-type programs,” she noted.
“They are a way of notifying the community if somebody with dementia, or an age-related illness were to go missing.
“If we had a local program we could band together much quicker (to search).”
Those interested in donating to the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can click here to help the group before the end of May.
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