I Dream of a Future Without Dementia
Let’s work towards a future where we are all Captains of our own ships.
I am writing to you today to share with you my two reasons for supporting Bruyère Continuing Care. The first is because of its important mission and vision towards enhancing lives by transforming care for a rapidly aging population as well as people of all ages with complex medical conditions. The second is more personal but will stress why you should consider giving the Bruyère your financial support.
For the first time here in Ottawa, two iconic academic research institutes are working together towards the shared goal of finding new ways to treat dementia. Together, the Bruyère Research Institute (BRI) and the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute (uOBRMI) have joined forces for a single purpose: innovative research that can be applied in a nurturing healthcare environment to offer the best treatment and programs for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Right now just over 550,000 Canadians live with dementia. Health experts predict that number will almost double in the next 10 years. We need your help to solve this healthcare crisis.
My husband, John, was a mariner for much of his working life. He navigated the world, had the opportunity to explore all our continents and experience different cultures. He was most at home on board a ship. After years at sea, and decades working for the Public Service of Canada, he retired in 1990. As you can imagine, he wasn’t one to sit back and be idle. As he used to say: “I can use my brain and my hands.” With this in mind, and thinking ahead, we bought ourselves a farm just outside of Ottawa as our retirement project and lived there for close to forty years. Despite being healthy and active, John began to experience problems with his heart.
As he started to show signs of cardiovascular dementia, we, as a family, discussed the future. We knew that long-term care would eventually be needed, and I am grateful that we had the time to think about what that might look like. For him, receiving care at Bruyère was at the top of his wish list.
Last year, when the time came, to our delight, a spot opened up for John at Bruyère. He walked through the doors of Bruyère, with a bounce in his step and a look of happiness on his face. He was assigned a room with a river view. It couldn’t have been more perfect. It allowed him to continue his imaginary travels by sea. He was on board a ship again. His room was his Captain’s cabin and those around him his crew. Thanks to the wonderful staff who treated him with love and respect, John died a happy and peaceful man, on board his ship with his family always beside him during this journey. But he and I also had a dream. We dreamt of a future where dementia is not a thing to be feared, and isn’t a death sentence. Instead, dementia would be something that’s identifiable early in life and managed in order to have the best quality of life.
Bruyère researchers are now looking at our lives, from birth to death, in terms of memory and brain function. They are working to find ways to ensure our quality of life is the best it can be. Their research and memory program will also help general practitioners identify risk factors earlier on in someone’s life and hopefully succeed in altering course so that future generations don’t have to face the onslaught of dementia, later in life.
With memory loss comes numerous challenges: medication and nutrition issues, mobility issues and safety issues, to name a few. They are looking at all of them and putting the proper safeguards in place. This important collaboration will also focus on training the next generation of caregivers so that they can provide state-of-the-art care. The ultimate vision of the Bruyère Research Institute (BRI) and the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute (uOBRMI) is, as they have stated, “to find new ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure problems with memory, thinking, learning and other cognitive functions. This collaboration is a key step in our development as an international leader in transforming care for our aging adults.”
At the end of the day, I know John’s story was special. It’s very rare for someone to enter a long-term care facility with a smile on their face and joy in their heart. Even more rare, is that their last days, while in care, are happy and peaceful. John and I were so fortunate to have this experience; my dream is for every person who faces dementia to have the same positive experience. After all, one day it might be you and I walking through those doors.
Let’s work towards a future, where we are all Captains of our own ships, choosing our own direction, and feeling the breeze of hope and opportunity against our skin. Thank you in advance for your generosity.
P.S. Aging is a part of life and often something we look to with a mixture of worry and despair. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With your donation to Bruyère today, you can ensure you and your loved ones will face a future where dementia is prevented and our last days are spent in happiness. Thank you for your support!