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A significant number of people live with dementia in early stages in the Tri-Region, one dementia support program coordinator is speaking out.

Sharon Cornelius, a coordinator at Westview Dementia Support Community Collaborative, said the project coordinators have spoken to local businesses in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Wabamum. Canadian stats state three out of four people will know someone living with dementia but the numbers are four out of four in the Tri-Region.

The special project that started in February this year, will fold in March 2018 and runs out of the Westview Health Centre in Stony Plain.

“We have a number of individuals who are living in our community who have early stages of dementia and we want to keep them as connected as possible to our community,” said Cornelius, as to why the project started.

Cornelius said the project does not provide medical help unlike the Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta but it looks at the support network available for people with dementia and their care partners.

“We are working to expand the communities awareness and incorporate new strategies to create a friendly environment for people living with Dementia,” she said.

When the project first started, the coordinators also interviewed those living with dementia and their care partners and found three top priorities – transportation, respite for care partners and the need for recreational activities for people living with dementia and their care partners.

Getting around isn’t easy for people with dementia because not all of them can drive and their care partners are often busy working.

As for the second priority, Cornelius said, spend time with someone living with dementia so their care partners can take a break.

“If a person feels comfortable and also if the care partner accepts, just offer to help,” she said.

Her advice to people when spending time with someone with dementia is to connect rather than correct. She asks people to go with the flow and not to correct someone with dementia and to focus on building a connection instead.

So far, Cornelius has presented to the community about seven times including the three councils at Parkland County, City of Spruce Grove and Town of Stony Plain.

She said she is working on getting exact numbers as to how many people in the Tri-Region have dementia.

To learn more visit the Alzheimer Society of Canada website at www.alzheimer.ca.

Cornelius also suggests calling Health Link by dialing 811 to learn more about Alzheimer’s.

Alberta Health Services website stated dementia advice is available through Health Link. Since May 2016, there have been more than 1,000 referrals supporting Albertans living with or caring for someone who has dementia, including those with Alzheimer’s disease.

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