P.E.I. woman gives a voice to dementia

Lynn Loftus is living with dementia, and the 30-year volunteer with the Alzheimer Society of P.E.I. wants people to know what that's like.

'I don’t like to ask for help. That's not in my nature.'

Lynn Loftus was diagnosed 10 months ago. (Alzheimer Society of P.E.I.)

Lynn Loftus is living with dementia, and the 30-year volunteer with the Alzheimer Society of P.E.I. wants people to know what that's like.

Loftus's latest volunteer job is as part of the Alzheimer Society's national I Live with Dementia campaign. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 10 months ago.

"I started realizing that I couldn't find things. I didn't know whether I'd paid bills or not. I would go to the grocery store and buy what I bought the last time I was there," she said.

Despite these signs, it was her husband who first suspected what the problem was.

"The past 10 months have been a roller coaster, that's the best way to describe it," said Loftus.

"Having a diagnosis of dementia meant that the things I was concerned about were justified. It also meant that I had to do a lot of explaining to a lot of friends and family, and the reactions have been multiple: some of them good, some of them a little more difficult."

'I'm a strong woman'

She said it was particularly difficult to tell her daughters.

"I'm a strong woman. I always was. This is frailty, in their minds. I think it's very hard for them," she said.

Her daughters want to help, but Loftus knows how busy they are with their own families, and she was never good at asking for help.

"I don't like to ask for help. That's not in my nature. I'm independent," she said.

"Giving up some independence, I've learned how to do it. That was something I had to learn."

Recruiting spokespeople with a connection to the disease is difficult, says Corrine Hendricken-Eldershaw. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Corrine Hendricken-Eldershaw, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of P.E.I., said using the voice of a person with the disease is always the best way to increase awareness, but it's not always easy to find a willing spokesperson.

"There's just so much stigma attached to it. It's difficult. If the individual is open to it then other family members may not be open to it," said Hendricken-Eldershaw.

"It takes a whole family decision for someone to give voice to the disease."

The campaign includes a website with stories from people across the country, and the hashtag #ilivewithdementia.

More P.E.I. news

With Files from Island Morning

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