Walking and Laughing in Support of Alzheimer's Awareness

Throughout the villages, people gather for final events of a month of awareness

By Kristian Partington

There are few people in modern society who are not connected to the realities of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in some way. It’s almost certain that in everyone’s life, a family member, a coworker, a friend or a neighbour has been or will be touched by the disease. It was in their honour that people from Schlegel Villages walked and laughed together at the end of January 2017 – Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – in a show of support for local Alzheimer’s Societies.  

"The walk was fabulous,” says Lorrie Nesbitt, who joined the team from Fairview Nursing Home at the largest Walk for Memories event in Canada at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre on Jan. 28.

“I really enjoyed being with all the people, being part of it all. I went to support my mother who had Alzheimer's.”

Harold St. Pierre was part of the Laugh-out-Loud-a-thon
in Windsor in support of the Azheimer Society
of Windsor-Essex County. 

An estimated 564,000 people in Canada currently live with some form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, and that number is expected to nearly double in the next 15 years. Of the residents living in Canadian long-term care homes, the society estimates some 60 per cent are living with some form of dementia.

That’s why across Schlegel Villages’ 16 long-term care and retirement communities, residents, team members and families gathered to show their support in walks across southern Ontario. In addition to Fairview, teams from University Gates, Wentworth Heights, Winston Park, Riverside Glen, Arbour Trails and Tansley Woods walked for the cause. Other villages are committed to walks to be held in May.

In Windsor, the Villages of Aspen Lake and St. Clair didn’t walk but instead, joined a “laugh out loud-a-thon” at the Devonshire Mall, also in support of Alzheimer’s awareness. Aspen Lake recreation director Jenny Brown explains that the annual Walk for Memories event now takes place in the spring so last year, their neighbours at Season’s Retirement Communities sponsored a new kind of event, which the villages were happy to support.

This year more than $3,000 was raised to support the Alzheimer Society of Windsor Essex County, and more than a few laughs were shared during this event where a laugher yoga instructor guided the group through a series of silly activities meant to inspire some of the best medicine in life to rise to the surface.  

“It really was fun,” says Aspen Lake resident Janet Leonard, “and it made me laugh.” The laughter was contagious, she says, spreading like fire throughout the large group gathered at the mall. From the minute they began introducing themselves to each other, the giggles began.

“We sure laughed, boy,” Janet says, noting that she was proud to help raise funds and awareness for a cause that affects so many people in her village and in the community beyond. “I hope we do it again next year.”