With its high ratio of a senior population, Donna Benson says Penticton has a responsibility as a community to address the growing problem of Alzheimer’s syndrome.
“Penticton is where Canada will be in 2030. We are at the forefront. It is up to us to show some leadership,” said Benson.
Showing leadership starts with a meeting she has organized for Oct. 27 to start a community conversation on the issues and problems.
“This community conversation will bring individuals, as well as service groups and businesses together to first ask the question how are we doing when it comes to creating a supportive community for the people in the early stages of dementia,” said Barbara Stewart, of the Penticton Salvation Army, which is also part of the event.
“Being a social services agency here … we are dealing with this on a very frontline basis,” said Stewart.
Benson is employed by the The Medical Arts Health Research Group, a commercial organization that organizes clinical trials. She’s also doing a Phd in community-based health solutions, which sparked her interest in the topic.
“Through that I became involved with the Alzheimer’s society and through that realized how much we need to do. We know that it takes a community and the Alzheimer’s Society can’t solve this alone,” said Benson. “We are committed to a 12-month project. Part of that is what we are doing Tuesday night, starting the conversation.”
Gaps in education and awareness about Alzheimers in the community, will be among the topics as well as examining ideal models of a dementia-friendly community. Benson hopes the meeting will be a first step to bringing individuals and groups together to create that awareness, as well as developing education programs for groups.
The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. in the Penticton Ramada Inn at 1050 Eckhardt Ave. W, and features a number of speakers, including Laurie Myres from the Alzheimer’s Society.