Mother is disappearing ‘one teaspoon at a time’

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Bob Stewart speaks about the 17-year struggle his mother has had with Alzheimer’s disease. He was participating in the launch of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month on Monday.
(Brent Linton)
Bob Stewart speaks about the 17-year struggle his mother has had with Alzheimer’s disease. He was participating in the launch of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month on Monday. (Brent Linton)

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month was launched Monday with a poignant story from local business owner Bob Stewart, who says he has been watching his mother disappear a teaspoon at a time.
“The biggest challenge living with this disease for 17 years is the lack of change that we have seen . . . and the support of health care that is provided at the level that the government has set out,” said Stewart.
“The government has had lots of studies in place, but ultimately it needs to translate into health care for people and I don’t know if the money that has been spent up to now has actually translated into health care and boots on the ground,’’ he said.
Stewart said his mother Margaret’s battle with Alzheimer’s “has been an interesting journey . . . very enlightening and troubling at the same time to see your mother disappear one teaspoon at a time.
“But on the other side, I have spent a lot of time with her that I might not have had.”
Ashleigh Quarrell of the Alzheimer Society said the theme this year is Raise Your Voice Narrow the Gap.
“We have a lot of gaps in our dementia care system, and there has been little observable change,” said Quarrell.
“We are only getting worse in the prevalence of the disease,’’ she said.
“We are currently sitting at 747,000 Canadians living with the disease. By 2020 that number is expected to rise to 1.4 million.
“Locally, we have over 2,300 people living with dementia and those numbers are expected to rise.”
The Alzheimer Society is encouraging people to raise their voices to their MPPs to ask the Ontario government to make people living with dementia and their families a priority.
An awareness partnership with Chapters was announced, and it is to be introduced Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. People can drop by Chapters that day to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and the Alzheimer Society.
Visitors can also have a helmet properly fitted to help protect the brain.
During the month, a table of Alzheimer’s- and dementia-related books will be set up at Chapters.