February | Anne Marie Parent
A tourism journalist for over 25 years, Anne Marie Parent certainly has great energy and exudes happiness and “joie de vivre!”
I contacted the Alzheimer Society of Montreal and asked if they could put me in touch with a volunteer who has made an extraordinary contribution to the cause of this disease. They immediately mentioned Anne Marie and put us in contact. I had the pleasure of sitting with her and she shared her story.
In 2011, her adored father Philippe (85) began to show signs of cognitive impairment as well as memory lapses. He was diagnosed with "frontotemporal degeneration", a disease related to Alzheimer's disease. After his wife passed away, his children discussed moving Philippe to a semi-autonomous residence in Manoir Outremont, an area he lived in for most of his life.
Philippe is an artist, always smiling, sweet and cheerful. He painted for many years and gave singing lessons. In fact, on December 25, he played the piano and sang for more than 2.5 hours at his residence with Anne Marie, a former student and the residents of the Manoir.
Anne Marie contacted the Alzheimer Society in 2015 and for 3 ½ years, she and her father participated in many workshops and took part in many activities given for people with Alzheimer's as well as for their caregivers. They offer ; art therapy, pet therapy, music, museum outings, etc.
This is where Anne Marie noticed how many people suffer from this disease, which also affects their families and caregivers and how much they needed volunteers.
Here are some tips she shared for people who also have loved ones who are experiencing what her father and family are going through. She says to be sure not to panic. The person should not be defined as the disease, their emotions never disappear.
She encourages people to continue to interact with the person affected, to add tenderness, to get informed on the disease and to ask for help since caregivers play a primary role. She talks about the importance of taking a break and how this should not be perceived as a sign of weakness. Several organizations offer respite services.
Her father Philippe no longer attends the Alzheimer Society, but Anne Marie has decided to volunteer her time. She is now considered as a " volunteer extraordinaire".
She lectures, meets with groups of students, loved ones, and people involved in the Walk for Alzheimer's in May. She encourages people to contact the Alzheimer Society in their region because it is the first resource when faced with this disease.
Thank you Anne Marie for your dedication, your energy and especially for your love. #montrealjetelove
For more information on the Montreal Alzheimer Society, please visit their website at www.alzheimermontreal.ca. Or consult the Alzheimer Society of Canada to find the Society near you https://alzheimer.ca