Katie Iveson connected with the Memory Ball team back in the summer of 2014. Feeling an immediate bond with the members whose experiences so closely matched her own, Katie began her journey volunteering as a member of the Memory Ball team. She took part in our awareness-building short film from 2015 – But I’m Also A Caregiver. Katie’s sincerity, dedication and commitment to Memory Ball are truly appreciated. Here are some poignant words she so kindly shared with us about her Father and the stigma around dementia.
In 2012, my Father was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a form of dementia that causes one’s language capabilities to become progressively impaired. An official diagnosis came at the young age of 58; however, other medical issues masked the disease for approximately 6 years prior.
“How’s your dad?”
This seemingly harmless question is one that I dread. While always well-meaning, it is one of the hardest questions for me to answer. I often make up some meaningless answer in order to avoid being the inevitable buzzkill that comes along with the topic of a parent who is living with an incurable disease. Sometimes when I’m out and the topic of Alzheimer’s disease comes up in conversation I am greeted with a surprising amount of misinformation. I’ll either get a simple and dismissive, “well, I hope he gets better soon!” or even an insensitive, “that’s the one there’s no cure for right?”.
The truth is, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease and while scientists are working hard, this is a disease that is drastically underfunded and wildly misunderstood. It is often thought of as an “old person’s” disease or simply a normal part of aging.
Dementia is NOT a normal part of aging. Forgetting the ones you love and losing your ability to make sense of the simplest of actions is not a normal part of aging. Losing your speech and forgetting how to write your own name is not a normal part of aging.
It is simple. Aging is a privilege. Aging with a sharp mind? A true gift that should never be taken for granted. Take care of your beautiful mind. It is all that you are, all that you hope to be, and all that you need to be for the ones you love.
It is so important to the 564,000 Canadians living with dementia today, as well as the hundreds of thousands more who will be diagnosed in the coming years, that we educate ourselves and begin to break the stigma.
To help us break the stigma, we ask you to consider donating to and attending Memory Ball.