A Dementia Journey with Judi and Gerald

Gerald is a participant in the Adult Day Programs at Northwood in Sackville. The Northwood Foundation is grateful to Judi for sharing her Alzheimer’s journey with us to help others who may also be struggling with the life changes that dementia can bring to families.

With their children almost finished school, Judi and Gerald were looking forward to making new memories to last a lifetime. More dancing, dining and spending time with friends, until their lives changed forever.

“I lost my dancing partner, and the love of my life when Gerald was diagnosed with Early-Onset Dementia.”

”I knew long before his diagnosis that something was off. Gerald could no longer connect his ideas to actions, to make things happen or take part in social outings with friends.”

“I did everything I could to care for Gerald on my own. After all, I vowed that we would grow old together, in sickness and in health. I have now come to understand that dementia took much more than my husband from me.”

“It is hard when your long-time friends stop popping in to visit, to share a tea or a beer. They said they stopped visiting because they didn’t know what to say – they didn’t know what to talk about. Gerald could no longer carry
a conversation with anyone. He stopped talking with me too. We both felt lost in our marriage. I was living with a stranger.”

“I have come to hate this dreaded disease, a memory monster and love larcenist. It might have taken ‘us’ away, all that we could be together, but I refuse to allow it to take away me.”

“This past February I got a call from the Northwood Adult Day Program in Sackville to tell me they were opening their programs to the community. There was an opening for Gerald! I happily accepted this spot, but also immediately felt an immense guilt that I was giving my responsibility of care to someone else. It felt like I had failed my husband. But, when you love someone, that means you would give up the world for them. I did, but I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed more for me. It was time to register him.”

Northwood’s Adult Day programs are designed to help adults maintain their current level of functioning, provide opportunities for socialization, and promote physical, and mental health in a secure environment. The program offers personal care to help build on, and maintain life skills, and respite for families and caregivers. Activities may include armchair exercises, a baking program, arts and crafts, music, gardening, and games.

Judi loves to share that donations made to the Northwood Foundation support Adult Day programs, making them more accessible to those who need them most.

“I wasn’t sure if Gerald would even attend the program, but the staff were so kind and amazing with him. He now attends the Adult Day program four days a week. He is laughing, painting, making button crafts, playing cards, answering trivia questions, and even cracking jokes! And, at his latest visit to his neurologist, I couldn’t believe he passed his cognitive testing for the first time since his diagnosis!

”The amazing team make a difference because they listen with their hearts.”

“The best part of the team at Northwood’s Adult Day, is that they care about
me, too! They ask me how I am doing, and if I need anything. I now have a team of professionals that understand not only Gerald’s Alzheimer’s journey, but they worry about the journey that I am on, as his caregiver.

“The team make a difference because they listen with their hearts. I no longer feel guilty when I drop Gerald off for the day because I know he is safe and cared for, and he’s enjoying every moment! I am now able to spend time with friends, get groceries without worrying, and I even registered for painting classes! We are both painting again!
“Donations to the Northwood Foundation have helped both of us. They have given me the chance to find a new purpose in my days. The staff share information about workshops, and education sessions in our area that have helped too.

“I no longer feel lost. Northwood helped me find ‘me’ again. You never know when your generosity will help support someone you love through Northwood’s many programs, like Adult Day did for me and my Gerald. You may not think that you will ever need special programs to help you through difficult days that may lie ahead. I never thought I would.

“I am thankful for all donors who embrace the Northwood Foundation. They help
thousands of people in our province who need special, loving care. Nowadays, with our senior population growing so fast, we all need Northwood’s programs more than ever.”

We can’t do what we do without you. Every donation, big or small, helps us make everyone’s aging experience the best it can be.