Sandee Hall is a cheerful person with a great sense of humour. When she started experiencing cognitive changes, she managed them with the same optimistic approach.
When Sandee tells people around her she has dementia, they are often shocked and will comment, “You look and talk just fine.” Sandee will ask, “What am I supposed to look like?” This kind of stigma drives her to educate her community about the disease and its impact.
Hall used to work at a nursery, but for a short while she could not recall the duties of her job. When she told her family she was struggling, they didn’t suspect dementia at the time. Hall’s symptoms were first attributed to medications she took for trigeminal neuralgia, a condition that causes nerve pain in the face. A PET scan later confirmed her diagnosis of young onset dementia.
This year Hall is being honoured at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s flagship fundraiser, the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s, presented by Go Auto,in Kamloops for her contribution to the community and her desire to share her story to help other people affected by dementia. Taking place in communities around B.C., including Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernonon Sunday, May 28, the event helps provide critical supports for people affected by dementia, while breaking down stigma surrounding the disease.
In 2019, a local medical clinic referred Hall to the Alzheimer Society of B.C., and she and her daughter followed up with an initial two-hour call to the Society’s Kamloops Resource Centre. Now, Hall attends both in-person and online Minds in Motion® programs with her sister Sherry and her daughter Cheri-Leah, where they enjoy group exercises, followed by social time with people who understand the journey.
There are more than 85,000 people living with dementia in British Columbia. If current trends continue, B.C. will see one of the most dramatic increases in the number of people facing the disease, with nearly 250,000 people diagnosed by 2050. People across the province will have the opportunity to help raise funds for essential Alzheimer Society of B.C. programs and services this May.
Hall is appreciative of the support she has received from the Society, saying, “It’s like talking to my best friend; I can just let everything out.” Hall still attends the early-stage support group to share her experiences with others.
To help make a difference in the lives of people like Hall on their dementia journey in your community, visit walkforalzheimers.ca.
If you are affected by dementia, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can help. Call the First Link® Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033 or visit alzheimerbc.org.