For as long as she could remember, every morning when Sandy collected the newspaper she would flip to the travel and entertainment section. Both her and her husband Tony were avid travellers who loved the arts. But ten years ago when Tony was diagnosed with dementia, Sandy’s habit started to fade. “You feel your world shrinking,” she reflects,” and when you don’t get to talk to your best friend anymore, it gets incredibly lonely.”
When you listen to Sandy talk about her husband or see them together, it’s easy to see that she’s the love of his life and his hers. They met in Grade 7 and have been together ever since, fifty-five years of love, friendship and adventure. But when Sandy and Tony re-visited Switzerland a few years after his diagnosis, Tony virtually had no memory of a place he had lived, worked and raised a family for 17 years.
As Tony’s health worsened, they packed up their things in Vernon, British Colombia and moved to Oakville to be closer to their children. Soon after moving to the community Tony was accepted to a United Way funded program that supports patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“I was so excited to get out and do something normal,” Sandy said on learning that Tony was accepted into the program, “because your whole life is filled with the abnormal.”
A teacher by trade, Sandy is a caring and patient person, yet even she has days where her job as a caretaker becomes overwhelming. “The support offered is so important not only for the mental health of the clients, but also for the people looking after their loved ones,” she comments.
Meet Tony today and his personality shines. A true gentleman, he still extends his hand for his wife when they cross the street. And four days each week Tony looks forward to going to the seniors day program – or the club as many refer to it. On those mornings his family is able to breathe a sigh of relief when Tony gets picked up in the morning, knowing that he’s in very capable and loving hands.