Each year, leaders in Vancouver Island’s health-care community come together at Breakfast to Remember, a fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of B.C. that is a morning of inspiring talks over breakfast. The event, which has gone virtual in 2021, is driven forward by a group of volunteers, including two women whose professional lives uniquely prepared them for the personal journeys they would embark on as caregivers to people living with dementia.
Stasia Hartley, chair of the Victoria volunteer organizing committee, first became involved in the event after taking on her senior management role at Bayshore Home Health. As she began working with families affected by dementia, Stasia recognized that with the growing number of people living with dementia at home and private care inaccessible to many, the programs and services offered by the Alzheimer Society of B.C. were essential.
“We needed to be a part of the care community because we can’t do it alone,” Stasia says. “I loved that the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s support is open to all – and I wanted to volunteer to help keep it that way.”
Then her family’s journey with dementia began. Stasia now provides care for her father-in-law who lives with dementia and sees first-hand the toll COVID-19 has taken on families, particularly her mother-in-law who has acutely felt the isolation brought by the pandemic. Though desperate for the respite and the time away to recharge, her mother-in-law is often unwilling to take it when it means missing a rare opportunity to connect with other people when family members come to provide help.
Devoted caregivers garner support and funds for families who walk the same path.
Founding member of the Breakfast to Remember organizing committee Geri Hinton shared her personal experience with dementia this January as a part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Geri was also immersed in a high-profile career that gave her insight into dementia before becoming a caregiver. Her experience during that period of her life has led to her unfaltering commitment to supporting other caregivers.
Geri was Director for the Province of B.C.’s Office for Seniors, which would later evolve into the Office of the Seniors Advocate, when she became a caregiver to her husband Peter who had received a diagnosis of dementia. Geri started a support group for spouses of people living with dementia and has remained a tireless advocate for families affected by the disease ever since.
“People fear dementia more than anything else when they get old,” says Geri who is a member of the Society’s advisory group of care partners. “It’s important that we provide information and resources for those who develop dementia as well as those who provide their support. We must ensure that those affected receive compassionate, appropriate care.”
This year Stasia and Geri will be among people across B.C. coming together to help change the future for people affected by dementia at a virtual Breakfast to Remember, featuring keynote speaker, astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield.
Breakfast to Remember will take place on Thursday, March 4, from 7:30 – 9 a.m. Tickets also include access to an exclusive research event featuring a live discussion with leading dementia researcher, Dr. Alexandre Henri-Bhargava. To learn more, or to purchase tickets, visit BreakfastToRemember.ca.