Adapting to a devastating diagnosis

When Jill’s father was diagnosed with dementia, it was overwhelming and devastating for their family. They didn’t know how to support him. With support from United Way partner agencies, Jill and her family were able to access educational and support programs to help them understand her father’s disease.

My dad would do things that were completely out of character. He had personality and mood changes; he was suddenly argumentative and reactive. He would get upset over things that would never upset him in the past.

When he was diagnosed with dementia, it was overwhelming and devastating for our family. We didn’t know how to support him. We didn’t know how to support ourselves.

United Way funds Alzheimer Society Calgary, specifically around learning and support. What that means for my family is that we were able to access educational and support programs to help us understand dad’s disease. The support team helped us navigate the healthcare system and gave us tools to deal with the grieving process. The programs were transformational – for how we viewed the disease, how we viewed my dad, and how we communicated with him. And it was because of these supports, we were able to reconnect with him.

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Before my dad’s diagnosis, my parent’s marriage was falling apart, and they couldn’t understand why.

What people don’t realize is that their donation is life-changing. They helped my family stay together. When you are faced with a disease like dementia, it can be terribly destructive to the fabric of family relationships. It is a disease that impacts everyone – the kids, the grandkids, the spouses. Accessing supports allowed us to rebuild trust and re-establish some of our family dynamics. It changed our lives.

A photo of Jill.

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