The story of Georgette

Georgette posing with her two daughtersWe had just celebrated my mother’s 60th birthday when she began to change.

At first it was in small and seemingly harmless ways, such as repeating the odd question or forgetting a word mid-sentence — minor lapses in memory many of us have experienced on occasion without reason for concern. As time went on we knew something was wrong. The once charismatic, articulate and tenacious women who was always so full of life, was beginning to fade before our eyes. 

Initially mom was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but treatment didn’t help and she was only getting worse. Then, three-weeks after I had given birth to my second child — by that point mom barely realized she had become a grandmother again — we got the news. Mom had Lewy Body Dementia, a devastating disease that slowly robs you of your peace of mind, your memories, your personality, your entire being. It also robs those who love you. My mother was becoming as unrecognizable to me, as I was to her. But, thanks to caring people like you who support the Bruyère Foundation our family found the care and compassion we needed to navigate this heartbreaking time.

Through Bruyère’s Geriatric Psychiatry program, Mom received the ongoing treatment she needed to help manage the symptoms and progression of her dementia from home. You can imagine how much that meant to my Dad, who had been assuring her, she would be able stay in her own home.

I was inspired to become a monthly donor to Bruyère, as a way to honour those who so lovingly ared for my mother. It’s a simple, easy, and consistent way to give back – to say thank you for providing my mother and my family with support when we needed it most. After a few years – precious years my mother was able to spend in her own home – it was obvious Mom was nearing the end of her life, and needed more intensive, advanced care than we could provide. You always wish you could have done more, don’t you? But my sister and I both had very young children and my Dad was becoming increasingly overwhelmed. We needed help, and thankfully Bruyère was there for us.

Georgette celebrating her 60th birthdayWe decided to admit Mom to Bruyère’s Palliative Care Unit, which allowed my family to be by my mother’s side, not as her caregivers, but as her loved ones. You can’t imagine the weight that was lifted off our shoulders! For the first time in our terrible journey I could breathe a sigh of relief because I could see she was in exceptional hands. Mom seemed at peace. Though we knew we were facing her final days, I was deeply touched by how the staff treated her. Doctors checked-up on her regularly, nurses bathed her daily, and one nurse in particular, even arranged her hair. I will forever be grateful to the doctors and nurses for treating my mother with such compassion and for ensuring her dignity and comfort in her final days.

My parents immigrated to Canada more than 40 years ago and worked hard to make a better life for themselves. When my mother was healthy, she was extremely proud, independent and disliked pity. It was as though the nurses at Bruyère knew her and advocated for her, so she could have the kind of death that honoured who she was.

As a first-generation Canadian, I feel privileged o live in a country – a community – that will support you when you need it most. We often take for granted how good we have it, until we need help. I am so grateful for what Bruyère did for my Mom, for my entire family - that’s why I keep giving. I want to do for others, if I can, what was done for my family. Unfortunately, we weren’t the first, and we won’t be the last, to need dementia care.

By 2031, the number of people living with Alzheimer's and other dementias in our country is expected to reach a staggering 937,000. That's almost the population of the entire city of Ottawa!

It’s an important moment in dementia and Alzheimer’s research: we know we are racing the clock in many ways. Not just the clock of our individual loved ones’ cognitive decline, but the clock of a society with an increasing number of senior citizens. At this point, a sharp increase in dementia patients is inevitable.

And while many of us think all the services we receive in hospitals are fully funded by the province, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bruyère relies on generous individuals like you to help build beyond the bare essentials. Donors like you help provide world-class care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients like my Mom. You help to pioneer exciting medical advances. And you help every patient and every family access the right treatment.

I dream about people never having to experience the very worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia: the loss of language, the disorientation, the loss of oneself. It’s truly heartbreaking to watch a loved one succumb to this disease.

Early detection, early treatment, and technological advances all have important roles to play in bettering the future of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. And that’s exactly what they’re working on at Bruyère.

Georgette celebrating her birthday with her two daughters and husbandI have tremendous confidence in the brain and memory research taking place at Bruyère and look to the future with hope and optimism that one day, a cure for dementia will be found. I feel confident that our community will help us make that reality possible.

Can I count on you to make a gift to Bruyère right now? Your gift will mean a world of difference when it comes to caring for patients like my Mom. And with the Holiday season fast approaching, what a thoughtful and meaningful gift idea it would be, to make a donation in honour of someone special. They’ll receive notice that a gift was made in their name; giving that gives back!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Josie Abou-Eid
Daughter of Georgette

P.S. There’s never been a more important time for your support! With nearly a million people expected to be living with some form of dementia in Canada, Bruyère needs your help now more than ever. Your monthly gift to Bruyère will ensure they’re able to provide the best care for years to come.