Alzheimer's walk Sunday all about honouring loved ones, supporting others

Norm Jackson is the Cowichan Valley honouree for the Investors Group Walk for Memories Sunday, Jan. 26 at the Cowichan Sportsplex. - Don Bodger/file
Norm Jackson is the Cowichan Valley honouree for the Investors Group Walk for Memories Sunday, Jan. 26 at the Cowichan Sportsplex.
— image credit: Don Bodger/file

Public perception of Alzheimer's disease is changing very quickly, making awareness through events like the Sunday, Jan. 26 Investors Group Walk for Memories all the more important.

"We really need to get behind this,'' said Cowichan Valley 2014 honouree Stormin' Norm Jackson, the pro at Cowichan Golf and Country Club. "it's not just affecting old people now.''

Jackson said he knows of one person, 56 years old, who has been diagnosed with the disease.

Alzheimer's and related dementias are now affecting people in their 50s and 60s more than ever before.

The Cowichan Valley walk takes place Jan. 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Cowichan Sportsplex. Registration is at 11 a.m.

Jackson's mother Audrey, who lived in Penticton, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2003 and experienced declining affects until she died at the age of 78.

"She passed away, it'll be four years ago on that weekend,'' said Jackson of the anniversary coinciding with the walk.

"It's kind of a nice way to honour my mom,'' he added. "My mom was the honouree in Penticton last year (posthumously). I did the walk up there.''

Since he didn't live near his mom, Jackson noticed a huge change when he saw her as the affects of Alzheimer's took hold. "It was the repetitiveness, that type of thing,'' he said.

Jackson added it was also odd how his mom was "not very comfortable outside her own environment at home. For my mom, it was not normal. She was very outgoing, very involved in the community. It was dramatic, for lack of a better word.''

Jackson feels strongly there is no need to be ashamed or hide what's happening to a loved one.

"I think the big thing is not to be afraid to talk about it and there is help for you,'' he said. "You don't have to do it alone.''

Turnouts have been small for recent walks and organizers are hoping more people will take part because Alzheimer's now affects so many.

Jackson will be the emcee for the Cowichan event in his inimitable style and piper Peter Leckie will lead the procession around the track. People are welcome to walk for a long time or a short distance, whatever their heart desires.

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