A couple from Steinbach appreciates fun programming offered locally by the Alzheimer's Society.
Rose Choquette and her husband Allan participated in the Minds in Motion program last year which was like a breath of fresh air.
“You have all these things planned, it’s all doctors' appointments, health concerns, but this was like, ‘okay, we have a date coming up.’ And that’s how I regarded it,” she says. “A date for him and I to go out and have fun and socialize.”
Choquette appreciates the time spent with people who passed no judgement on unusual social behaviours. She says it was also an opportunity for normal interactions.
“Watching him offer to help somebody who has got a different challenge than him, that he can handle, watching him offer to help and seeing that, it was like opening his eyes. ‘Look, I can help somebody else.’ He's always on the receiving end, it let him be on the giving end.”
Choquette says this experience opened the door for her husband to offer help to people outside of the program.
“He still was able to give. He wasn’t just sitting there and waiting for everybody to do for him,” she says. “He still had something to contribute.”
When they are in the community, Choquette says it has felt great to see supportive strangers who show understanding.
One of the things she encourages people to think about is whether offering unsolicited advice is truly helpful or harmful.
Choquette says that as a caregiver, she is sometimes viewed as limiting her husband’s life experiences. An example she gives is what kind of food he eats and the amount.
“‘Oh, let him have another treat,’ ‘just one piece,’ ‘it’s just this one time.’” These are all comments Choquette has heard many times from people who believe they are being helpful.
“They know nothing about what you're going through, but they're going to give you their advice based on no knowledge and no experience.”
Choquette encourages people to trust there are good reasons, medical or otherwise, that a caregiver might have to restrict food intake or other activities.
She wishes there would be more programming like Minds in Motion, offered during various times, to allow easier access for group get activities without having to reschedule medical appointments or homecare supports.