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EDITORIAL: Study on dementia-friendly neighbourhoods welcomed news

Increasingly, adults living with dementia are choosing to age in place
Researchers are studying how to create dementia-friendly neighbourhoods. City of Williams Lake photo

The news this week that researchers from some B.C. universities are collaborating to figure out how to create dementia-friendly neighbourhoods piqued my interest.

Increasingly, adults living with dementia are choosing to age in place and just as their homes need to adapt to their more complex needs, so too do their communities, the researchers noted in a news release.

My mom Shawn Ferris Lamb had dementia the last four years of her life.

On Oct. 20, 2021 she died of a blood clot in her lungs. A few weeks before she fell and broke her hip.

She was taken to hospital, had surgery and never fully recovered.

Over those four years, we watched our very outgoing mom, who saw the best in everyone she met, get to a point where she struggled to communicate and was sometimes confused.

Up until she fell and broke her hip, however, mom lived in her own home with a full-time caregiver and long-time friend who kept her healthy through companionship, a wholesome diet and regular exercise.

COVID-19 restrictions made it difficult because mom’s access to the gym, pool and adult daycare was curtailed for long periods of time as well as close visits with family and friends.

Last summer I spent two weeks in Nelson with our grandchildren and every day I included mom on our outings or brought her to our daughter’s home to spend time with us there.

If we headed out on a long walk, mom had no problem keeping up with me.

I learned not to ask questions, rather give examples and sometimes that inspired a response from her.

Out of the blue she’d mutter something and I’d realize her mind was tuned in.

When I returned home to Williams Lake, and had time to reflect, I realized it would be a sad day when mom had to go into care because she enjoyed long walks and getting out into the town she grew up in and knew so well.

University of Northern British Columbia nursing associate professor Dr. Shannon Freeman, one of the researchers involved in the project, said we need to support people living with dementia so they can age with dignity and grace, we need to make it possible for them to continue to participate in activities they find meaningful.

My experiences with my mom really showed me that.

Monica Lamb-Yorski

Williams Lake Tribune

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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