Although she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago Summerland’s Sharon Stone lives each day to the fullest. Sharon is this year’s Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s honouree which takes place in May. Mark Brett/Western News

Summerland woman rises to the challenges of Alzheimer’s

Living each day to the fullest with Alzheimer’s

When Sharon Stone came home from the doctor’s office with the sad news her test for Alzheimer’s was positive, she immediately called her children.

“The kids wanted to know right away so I phoned them and told them, (shouting) ‘I passed the test,’” laughed Sharon, 71. She lives in Summerland with husband of 37 years, Grant Stone. “The kids all really got a kick out of that because they were all really worried about mom crawling under the bed or something.”

Obviously, despite the diagnosis, she keeps a positive outlook on life, is active and lives each day to the fullest.

“You know, when I feel like this thing is starting to get me down I just get up off my ass and go for a walk outside,” said Sharon, who is also part of a study group that includes the use of a new trial drug. “I haven’t suffered from it (Alzheimer’s). It isn’t painful, it doesn’t hurt like cancer. I have some short term memory loss, like when guys forget to flush the toilet.”

Related: Alzheimer’s awareness walk Makes Memories Matter

Sharon is this year’s Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s honouree, an annual fundraiser and awareness event that takes place in May.

According to Mary Beth Rutherford of the Penticton office of the Alzheimer Society of B.C., Sharon is the perfect poster child for what life can be with dementia.

“She’s out there doing things in the community, and she is not about to let this get her down,” said Rutherford.

A good example of that is you can find Sharon volunteering in the souvenir shop at the current Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Curling to her is more than just a spectator sport. It is a memory of a very special moment for, at the time, a 19-year-old Edmonton girl.

Sharon (nee Harrington) was an impromptu member of the Jamison rink out of the Crestwood Curling Club who won Alberta’s first Canadian Women’s Curling Championship in 1966 in Vancouver.

“This lady (Hazel Jamison) had three daughters who played on the team and one of them got pregnant and couldn’t go so they asked me,” recalled Sharon. “That was something I will never forget, and to get to go again now, after all those years, is just such a thrill.”

She said it was her children who first noticed what proved to be the symptoms of dementia, and her husband remembers the day he knew for certain something was wrong.

“I guess really it happened before the diagnosis,” said Grant. “My sister’s husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and they gave him three months and he lasted two months. I remember sitting down with Sharon and told her ‘David’s passed away’ and three weeks later she said ‘do you know how David’s doing?’

“You use the expression ‘I already told you that’ but after you’ve used that expression, you know, a few dozen times, you stop.”

Along with working full time as a transit driver Grant is Sharon’s main caregiver, and he admits it’s not been easy.

“It has been kind of — I want to speak from the heart, but I don’t want to sugarcoat it — it’s been a challenge and it’s been kind of heartbreaking at the same time,” he said. “To see this vibrant personality and so skilled and to kind of see her lose her confidence. It’s kind of sad. I don’t mean to have any kind of a pity party, but I wasn’t expecting this at this stage of our lives. Nobody does.

“Sitting in our nice little house here, beside the garden and looking out at the view, she’s very safe and content here but when you get out of that routine …”

And his caring is not lost on Sharon.

“I have the best husband ever,” she said with a smile. “He’s just there for me for everything, we have so much fun together, he’s just always there for me and I love him so much.”

She is also no stranger to dementia, having worked with the society as a respite manger for two years and looking after her mother who eventually died from the disease in a Summerland care home.

“Honestly, my biggest hope is for a cure, not necessarily for me but for my children, so they don’t have to go through this. But for me, I’m just going to keep smiling. I passed, remember?”

 

The modified sign in the Stone’s kitchen now that grandfather does all the cooking. Mark Brett/Western News

Grant and Sharon Stone of Summerland enjoy one of their favourite past times, going for a walk together. Mark Brett/Western News

Newspaper clippings from the 1966 Canadian Women’s Curling Championship won by the Jamison rink of Edmonton which Sharon Stone (Harrington) was a member of at age 19. Submitted photo

Just Posted

Changing the picture of family medical care

Efforts ongoing to recruit family physicians for the South Okanagan Similkameen

Penticton Vees drop regular season finale in overtime

Vees end the season with 5-4 loss to Silverbacks

Reel Reviews: The Wakanda Way

We say, “Black Panther is too shallow to be deep, too disposable to be important.”

Medical foundation closing in on goal with lots of help

Coming right on the heels of the 2018 Scotties women’s curling championships… Continue reading

Robinson Crusoe+Friday sails into Penticton

Children’s Showcase presents Axis Theatre’s take on the classic tale

The 2018 B.C. Games wrap up in Kamloops

The B.C. Winter Games comes to a close after a weekend of fun and excitment

Street Sounds: Glossy ear candy meets deep roots

MGMT’s new drop, Little Dark Age, delves deeper song by song.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Naval ship spills 30,000 litres of fuel in the Strait of Georgia

HMCS Calgary spilled fuel east of Nanaimo and Parksville on Saturday

Book Talk: Praise for the novella

It’s too long for a short story and too short for a novel, but the novella is gaining in popularity

B.C. Games athletes try out wheelchair badminton ahead of Paralympic debut

Wheelchair basketball and badminton give wheelchair badminton a shot

B.C. boosts support for former youth in government care

More support coming for rent, child care and health care while they go back to school

Luna Fest issues callout for artist submissions

Festival’s art installations transform downtown Revelstoke in the fall

Most Read