The Nova Scotia government has asked a woman with Alzheimer's to help try to improve its support for people living with dementia, as well as their families.
The Department of Health and Wellness has named 17 people to a committee to study care and support for those suffering from the degenerative disease.
The committee includes service providers, health care professionals and a family caregiver.
Faye Forbes is one of the members of the committee, and the only one living with Alzheimer’s.
“For the most part I can still live a fairly normal life. I'm active in my community, I'm active in my church, I'm active with the Alzheimer's society. I interact with people — I'm a very social person so that is one good thing because that helps keep your mind active,” she said.
Forbes, who is 62 years old now, first noticed a change in her mid-50s.
“My get-up-and-go, got up and left — that was the first thing for me,” she said.
It took a few years before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
“I'd like to see people who are going through this from the start have better access to having their questions answered,” said Forbes.
While Forbes can't do everything she used to — like knitting and cooking without a recipe — she takes medication to help with some of her symptoms. She also uses some tricks to help her remember some day to day tasks.
“I might not think about sweeping the floor unless I make myself a note that on Tuesday I sweep the floor,” said Forbes.
Forbes says being open about a dementia diagnosis is an important part of keeping social connections.
According to Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia has the oldest population per capita in the country.
Each month, about 1,000 Nova Scotians turn 65.
As of July 1, 2013, Statistics Canada reports 166,519 Nova Scotians or 17.7 per cent of the province's total population are 65 or older.