FOCUS ON SENIORS: Living one day at a time

Opinion Dec 30, 2014 by Gary Chalk Brant News

‘Every day is a new day – it is never like the day before,” Bernice Baird says.

Her husband Dan adds, “some of my days are better than others.”

The Bairds moved to their comfortable apartment in Brantford two years ago.

“We left Hamilton in 1991 to spend summers at Shamaranne Park outside Brantford and then travel south for the winter at Dade City, Florida,” Bernice said.

About seven years ago, Dan began showing signs of dementia.

“One minute Dan would be driving along the highway at 60 miles per hour and then for no reason he would slow down and be travelling much slower,” Bernice said.

The Bairds met with their family physician, who arranged a referral to Dr. Braun, a specialist at the Brant Community Healthcare System.

“Dr. Braun diagnosed Dan’s dementia, set up his medication regimen and talked to us about the various community support services for Alzheimer’s patients. Unfortunately, she has left the Brantford General Hospital,” Bernice said.

The Bairds appreciate that the importance of maintaining a supervised medication plan for Dan’s dementia can’t be overstated.

“One time we were visiting two of our sons in British Columbia when Dan couldn’t find his way around,” Bernice said. “He was looking for the stairs. It was quite scary and very obvious that something was wrong. It turned out to be a simple labelling mix-up, but it shows the significance of the medication.”

As Dan’s home caregiver, Bernice doesn’t know what to expect each day.

“I do know that we don’t do mornings,” Bernice said with a smile. “We need the time to get ourselves in gear.”

Most mornings Dan wakes up “confused.”

“Some days are certainly better than others, but we need to administer Dan’s medications at breakfast time and keep things calm,” Bernice said. “Often Dan needs to relax and things usually improve. Occasionally, we may need to slow things down again once or twice throughout the day.”

Dementia has defined the Bairds’ daily routine.  Each day they plan to accomplish perhaps two things and then relax.

“Dan doesn’t go anywhere by himself and, of course, I do all the driving,” Bernice said.

“I honestly don’t know where we would be without all the community supports and services that are available for Dan and all the others in our position,” Bernice said.

“I enjoy a program provided by the John Noble Home,” Dan said. “We have a meal and Bernice and I spend time together with people in a similar situation as us.”

The Bairds also look forward to a program at Fairview United Church – Friends and Family – held the first and third Tuesday of each month. As well, every Thursday afternoon, Dan attends the Lead Program at the John Noble Home.

There, he joins with others for an afternoon of exercise and playing cards. He is picked up at home during the noon hour and returns in the early evening. Bernice takes this time to go shopping, or maybe just relax.

“I also belong to a couple of caregiver support groups,” Bernice said. “This helps me with the increased stress – you just don’t know what to expect. You find that even your social life becomes Alzheimer’s-related.”

The Bairds know that Bernice must be the “guiding influence” on everything they do. This was challenged earlier this year.

“In May, both of us were hospitalized,” Bernice said. “Dan had an operation on his (arteries) and I suffered a heart attack. We have both recuperated now but life wasn’t easy. Let’s just say that 2014 wasn’t our best year.”

The Bairds are thankful the Ontario Drug Benefit Program – along with Dan’s retirement pension plan – covers the increased expenses that come with a dementia diagnosis, saying they “feel for others less fortunate.”

Bernice said, “you don’t know where your blessings are until you hear of others.”

Dementia is a debilitating disease. It robs patients and families of their quality of life.

“Dementia takes away from you,” Dan said. “But I am convinced there will be a cure.”

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Living one day at a time

Dementia diagnosis brings change to family life

Opinion Dec 30, 2014 by Gary Chalk Brant News

‘Every day is a new day – it is never like the day before,” Bernice Baird says.

Her husband Dan adds, “some of my days are better than others.”

The Bairds moved to their comfortable apartment in Brantford two years ago.

“We left Hamilton in 1991 to spend summers at Shamaranne Park outside Brantford and then travel south for the winter at Dade City, Florida,” Bernice said.

About seven years ago, Dan began showing signs of dementia.

“One minute Dan would be driving along the highway at 60 miles per hour and then for no reason he would slow down and be travelling much slower,” Bernice said.

The Bairds met with their family physician, who arranged a referral to Dr. Braun, a specialist at the Brant Community Healthcare System.

“Dr. Braun diagnosed Dan’s dementia, set up his medication regimen and talked to us about the various community support services for Alzheimer’s patients. Unfortunately, she has left the Brantford General Hospital,” Bernice said.

The Bairds appreciate that the importance of maintaining a supervised medication plan for Dan’s dementia can’t be overstated.

“One time we were visiting two of our sons in British Columbia when Dan couldn’t find his way around,” Bernice said. “He was looking for the stairs. It was quite scary and very obvious that something was wrong. It turned out to be a simple labelling mix-up, but it shows the significance of the medication.”

As Dan’s home caregiver, Bernice doesn’t know what to expect each day.

“I do know that we don’t do mornings,” Bernice said with a smile. “We need the time to get ourselves in gear.”

Most mornings Dan wakes up “confused.”

“Some days are certainly better than others, but we need to administer Dan’s medications at breakfast time and keep things calm,” Bernice said. “Often Dan needs to relax and things usually improve. Occasionally, we may need to slow things down again once or twice throughout the day.”

Dementia has defined the Bairds’ daily routine.  Each day they plan to accomplish perhaps two things and then relax.

“Dan doesn’t go anywhere by himself and, of course, I do all the driving,” Bernice said.

“I honestly don’t know where we would be without all the community supports and services that are available for Dan and all the others in our position,” Bernice said.

“I enjoy a program provided by the John Noble Home,” Dan said. “We have a meal and Bernice and I spend time together with people in a similar situation as us.”

The Bairds also look forward to a program at Fairview United Church – Friends and Family – held the first and third Tuesday of each month. As well, every Thursday afternoon, Dan attends the Lead Program at the John Noble Home.

There, he joins with others for an afternoon of exercise and playing cards. He is picked up at home during the noon hour and returns in the early evening. Bernice takes this time to go shopping, or maybe just relax.

“I also belong to a couple of caregiver support groups,” Bernice said. “This helps me with the increased stress – you just don’t know what to expect. You find that even your social life becomes Alzheimer’s-related.”

The Bairds know that Bernice must be the “guiding influence” on everything they do. This was challenged earlier this year.

“In May, both of us were hospitalized,” Bernice said. “Dan had an operation on his (arteries) and I suffered a heart attack. We have both recuperated now but life wasn’t easy. Let’s just say that 2014 wasn’t our best year.”

The Bairds are thankful the Ontario Drug Benefit Program – along with Dan’s retirement pension plan – covers the increased expenses that come with a dementia diagnosis, saying they “feel for others less fortunate.”

Bernice said, “you don’t know where your blessings are until you hear of others.”

Dementia is a debilitating disease. It robs patients and families of their quality of life.

“Dementia takes away from you,” Dan said. “But I am convinced there will be a cure.”

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Living one day at a time

Dementia diagnosis brings change to family life

Opinion Dec 30, 2014 by Gary Chalk Brant News

‘Every day is a new day – it is never like the day before,” Bernice Baird says.

Her husband Dan adds, “some of my days are better than others.”

The Bairds moved to their comfortable apartment in Brantford two years ago.

“We left Hamilton in 1991 to spend summers at Shamaranne Park outside Brantford and then travel south for the winter at Dade City, Florida,” Bernice said.

About seven years ago, Dan began showing signs of dementia.

“One minute Dan would be driving along the highway at 60 miles per hour and then for no reason he would slow down and be travelling much slower,” Bernice said.

The Bairds met with their family physician, who arranged a referral to Dr. Braun, a specialist at the Brant Community Healthcare System.

“Dr. Braun diagnosed Dan’s dementia, set up his medication regimen and talked to us about the various community support services for Alzheimer’s patients. Unfortunately, she has left the Brantford General Hospital,” Bernice said.

The Bairds appreciate that the importance of maintaining a supervised medication plan for Dan’s dementia can’t be overstated.

“One time we were visiting two of our sons in British Columbia when Dan couldn’t find his way around,” Bernice said. “He was looking for the stairs. It was quite scary and very obvious that something was wrong. It turned out to be a simple labelling mix-up, but it shows the significance of the medication.”

As Dan’s home caregiver, Bernice doesn’t know what to expect each day.

“I do know that we don’t do mornings,” Bernice said with a smile. “We need the time to get ourselves in gear.”

Most mornings Dan wakes up “confused.”

“Some days are certainly better than others, but we need to administer Dan’s medications at breakfast time and keep things calm,” Bernice said. “Often Dan needs to relax and things usually improve. Occasionally, we may need to slow things down again once or twice throughout the day.”

Dementia has defined the Bairds’ daily routine.  Each day they plan to accomplish perhaps two things and then relax.

“Dan doesn’t go anywhere by himself and, of course, I do all the driving,” Bernice said.

“I honestly don’t know where we would be without all the community supports and services that are available for Dan and all the others in our position,” Bernice said.

“I enjoy a program provided by the John Noble Home,” Dan said. “We have a meal and Bernice and I spend time together with people in a similar situation as us.”

The Bairds also look forward to a program at Fairview United Church – Friends and Family – held the first and third Tuesday of each month. As well, every Thursday afternoon, Dan attends the Lead Program at the John Noble Home.

There, he joins with others for an afternoon of exercise and playing cards. He is picked up at home during the noon hour and returns in the early evening. Bernice takes this time to go shopping, or maybe just relax.

“I also belong to a couple of caregiver support groups,” Bernice said. “This helps me with the increased stress – you just don’t know what to expect. You find that even your social life becomes Alzheimer’s-related.”

The Bairds know that Bernice must be the “guiding influence” on everything they do. This was challenged earlier this year.

“In May, both of us were hospitalized,” Bernice said. “Dan had an operation on his (arteries) and I suffered a heart attack. We have both recuperated now but life wasn’t easy. Let’s just say that 2014 wasn’t our best year.”

The Bairds are thankful the Ontario Drug Benefit Program – along with Dan’s retirement pension plan – covers the increased expenses that come with a dementia diagnosis, saying they “feel for others less fortunate.”

Bernice said, “you don’t know where your blessings are until you hear of others.”

Dementia is a debilitating disease. It robs patients and families of their quality of life.

“Dementia takes away from you,” Dan said. “But I am convinced there will be a cure.”