Gayle Ryan, Author at Memory Ball
Memory Ball Toronto is back with its Sixth Annual Gala Event, proudly hosted by the Young Leaders Council of the Alzheimer Society of Toronto
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Author: Gayle Ryan

When you think of stigmas related to health conditions, what are some of the first ones that come to mind - perhaps they are related to obesity?  Maybe smoking?  One that might not come to mind initially is Alzheimer’s disease. Emma McKay understands this stigma first hand. Her mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and Emma and her family are caregivers. Emma shared with us that “the most fundamental and common way Alzheimer's disease is trivialized is through the "old age" stereotype. Memory loss is one of the most common characteristics that we as a society associate with getting old, and so Alzheimer's is often looped into a category of diminished significance because of this. I think the stigma can be even more evident when you are dealing with early-onset Alzheimer's, because the patients' themselves look young and completely normal at first glance.” [caption id="attachment_2933" align="aligncenter" width="640"]emma mckay and her mom Emma with her mom[/caption]

Do you know the cost of ignoring Alzheimer's disease?

We have a mission at Memory Ball, and that is to end Alzheimer's disease in this lifetime. Right now, there are currently about 747,000 people with dementia across Canada. That number is expected to double to 1.4 million by 2031. Alzheimer's is officially the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and the 5th leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older. This number could actually be higher, because it may cause even more deaths than official sources recognize. Alzheimer’s disease is becoming an epidemic, but it can be stopped. We can make a difference. 747,000 Canadians live with dementia

Kathleen Beveridge is a regular contributor to the Memory Ball blog. She has written other stories on the benefits of yoga on brain health. Here is her personal story dealing with Alzheimer's Disease. It’s been 10 months since my grandfather lost his battle with Alzheimer’s and 6 months since my family was able to all be together and pay him tribute. His official diagnosis occurred between 5-6 years ago, and I’ve watched my family’s relationships with each other change and shift. When my grandpa finally let go in February there was a collective sigh of relief from his sons. This may come off sounding horrible and insensitive, but the loss suffered this year wasn’t one of mind, character, or soul, it was his physical body that left us, the rest had already slowly chipped away.19 11 2014 Kathleen's Story BeveridgeFamily99 (2)

Special thanks to Marija Padjen of the Alzheimer Society of Toronto for her assistance with this article. When a loved one receives an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it can be hard to know what level of care they need. You might wonder if the person should stay in their own home, or if they should move into a family member’s house. You might wonder if the person should move into an assisted living facility.

Get Educated Early

The answer is that all of the above are correct, it really depends on the person and their specific situation. Ambiguous answer, I know, but the circumstances can vary so widely that it’s impossible to say that what works in one situation will work in another. It’s important to become educated on the disease early in the process, as this allows for future care planning. Often, families that are educated about what to expect are able to keep the person with Alzheimer’s at home longer than those who are not educated about the disease. If you think that you are doing fine, and you don’t need to learn more about the disease or find out about the resources available to you, understand that now is actually the time. It is easier to consider the options and circumstances now, before the situation starts to become stressful.

Insurance can seem like a daunting topic, but bear with us - this information is critical 

by Ali Forster Ali is Memory Ball's Director of Finance and Operations. She is a financial advisor at a boutique firm in midtown Toronto, working with clients to achieve their financial goals and ensure overall financial health. She is FPSC Level 1™ Certified in Financial Planning for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation. Check out her new blog at  Over the past three years I have learned a lot about Alzheimer’s disease because of the awareness raised by Young People Against Alzheimer's (YPAA) and Memory Ball. When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the emotional burden is immense. Combining that with the financial worry can be simply overwhelming. Not only is there a loss of income but there is also an added strain to the budget, for a variety of costs. What if I told you there was a way to protect yourself, and in turn protect your family from the financial burden of being diagnosed with an illness? You may say, “I have an emergency fund” or “a savings account”; but think about the amount you have saved, would it cover your expenses for a month? A year?… A decade?