What are the everyday realities faced by a person with dementia?
A production coming to the Algonquin Theatre on March 9 will share the experiences of people living with and supporting those with dementia. The goal: to reduce stigma and help people with dementia have productive and meaningful interactions.
The Alzheimer Society of Muskoka has partnered with Muskoka Seniors to bring the travelling production of “I’m Still Here”, performed by act2studioWORKS, to the Algonquin Theatre stage.
“It’s a 50-minute drama designed to help care partners, families and the community at large understand the reality the person with dementia faces every day,” says Shawna Torkoff, public education coordinator with the Alzheimer Society of Muskoka.
“People think that someone, upon a diagnosis with dementia, forgets everything right away and that they have no purpose, when people with dementia have purpose and can still lead full lives,” she adds. “Things in time will become more difficult. Dementia as a whole is always progressing, but that doesn’t mean it’s imminent.”
“I’m Still Here” aims to dispel some of the stigma and myths about dementia, as well as ease some of the uncertainty and isolation felt by those experiencing it and their loved ones.
Both organizations want people to know that they are not alone.
The Alzheimer Society of Muskoka has services for both the person living with dementia and their care partner, family or friend. “They actually don’t need an official diagnosis. They can just recognize changes and call to activate services,” says Torkoff. The organization knows that navigating the medical system may be challenging and they are there to help.
“We partner a lot with Muskoka Seniors because we know that there’s there’s no way to stop dementia, but we do know that through socialization and activation that it hopefully will slow the process down, and being a part of that larger community allows us to live less at risk,” she adds.
Muskoka Seniors provides a variety of services that would be helpful to those with dementia and their caregivers. “Whether that’s support for somebody that gives them a little bit of respite, whether it’s being able to create new, meaningful connections by coming to one of the friendship luncheons. We also have a friendly visiting program,” says Jenn Pfrimmer, executive director of Muskoka Seniors. “We’ve had a number of clients that are just looking for some support. There are services available—just reach out.”
They also steer people toward the Alzheimer Society for support when family members or volunteers notice changes that might indicate dementia.
Only one in four people with dementia will receive an official diagnosis, notes Torkoff.
“I’m Still Here” will be at the Algonquin Theatre on Monday, March 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased online here or at the Algonquin Theatre box office. Muskoka Seniors can provide transportation to the theatre for those who don’t drive or have a vehicle through its transportation program.
Learn more about the Alzheimer Society of Muskoka at alzheimer.ca/en/muskoka or call 705-645-5621, and about Muskoka Seniors at muskokaseniors.org or call 705-789-6676. You can also find both groups on Facebook.
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