Sudbury

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's

A few years ago, Delores Higgins of Sudbury knew something was happening to her husband. Since then, he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and Delores has been his primary caregiver.
Delores Higgins is the primary caregiver for her husband who has Alzheimer's. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

A few years ago, Delores Higgins of Sudbury knew something was happening to her husband. Since then, he's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and Delores has been his primary caregiver.

"Your life really changes," she said. "There's some good points, there's not so good points."

Delores said she started to notice subtle changes in her husband, including him forgetting recipes. She also said she had to start repeating things to him.

"When you've been married 50 years, let's face it, you think 'oh yeah you old fart,'" she said.

"[But] then you get to notice that this is not my hubby."

The couple sought out assistance from the Alzheimer Society for more information. Eventually, he was diagnosed by a doctor, with having early stages of Alzheimer's.

Her husband still lives at home with Delores providing care. She anticipates at some point he will need to live in a facility to care for him.

"You're always trying to help and maintain the dignity of your loved one," she said.

"Sometimes you're human and you don't do it so well, and that's on me."

Encouraging people to 'keep living in the community'

As Alzheimer Awareness month wraps up, the executive director for the Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin and North Bay, Stephanie Leclair, says it's important more people understand the disease, since it's being diagnosed at a younger age.

"We're talking about people who are still in the workforce," Leclair said.

"You know and how do we deal with that when it happens. As an organization we really want to encourage them to keep living in the community and living well with dementia is what we talk lots about and to support them to continue living in their community."

Leclair said it's hard to tell how many people in the Sudbury community have early onset of Alzheimer's Disease. However she added that about 30 per cent of those recently diagnosed across Canada are aged 65 or younger.

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