Message to push to make dementia a provincial priority coming to Penticton

Jim Mann, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2007 at age 58, is bringing his message to Penticton Thursday, at the Shatford Centre.

Alzheimer Society of B.C. moard member Jim Mann and Society CEO Jean Blake (centre) listen as B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid speaks at the official launch of Jim’s Push for a Plan in Vancouver. Mann was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007 and is pushing for a comprehensive

Alzheimer Society of B.C. moard member Jim Mann and Society CEO Jean Blake (centre) listen as B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid speaks at the official launch of Jim’s Push for a Plan in Vancouver. Mann was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007 and is pushing for a comprehensive

Jim Mann has a plan to make dementia-related illness a priority for the next provincial government.

To that end, Mann, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2007 at age 58, is bringing his message to Penticton Thursday, at a 1 p.m. meeting at the Shatford Centre on Main Street.

Jim’s Push for a Plan involves a series of stops throughout B.C. to get the message out to politicians about what he feels is a much-needed, comprehensive, funded dementia program. By doing this, he hopes to help avert a potential crisis and prepare the province for the rising tide in dementia as the population ages. Along with members of the public, he is inviting local candidates in the upcoming election and urging them to talk to voters about their views and position on the matter.

“My passion is advocacy, whether it is one person or in a group, whether quietly in the background or through loud demonstration,” said Mann. “I believe in the value of advocacy because it is an opportunity to make voices heard and who better to tell the story than people with dementia and their caregivers?

“There have been several ‘teachable moments’ so far on the journey. That’s what I call opportunities to break the cycle of ignorance and to change attitudes through education. I do it one person at a time; one opportunity at a time.”

According to Laurie Myres, support and education co-ordinator for the Penticton Alzheimer Society office Mann is the perfect guy for the job.

“He fits the bill really well because he is struggling with his own challenges,” she said Tuesday. “He’s speaking from his own personal walk that he is on and also, he still has the skills available to be a very passionate advocate.”

Mann, who lives in Surrey, is a board member with the provincial society and is a former communications consultant. Since that time he has become an increasingly strong advocate for the society and its work to assist those with the illness and their families.

Dementia is a term describing a general group of brain disorders. Symptoms include the loss of memory, impaired judgment and changes in behaviour and personality.

Dementia is progressive, degenerative and eventually terminal with Alzheimer’s being the most common form, currently accounting for almost two-thirds of dementias in Canada. An estimated 70,000 people in BC currently suffer from some form of Alzheimer’s or related illness but that is expected to climb dramatically in the coming years.

“Age 65 seems to be the magic number where we start to see the statistics increase and we’ve already started to see the first few baby boomers come in but we haven’t seen anything yet,” said Myres.

However, she cautioned people not to overreact to such a diagnosis.

“We also have to remember that people don’t instantly become incapacitated, it can be a long process. Every end has a beginning.”

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