Walking for Alzheimer’s support

A pair of bagpipers lead walkers around the Alfred Jenkins Field House track for the first lap of the Walk for Alzheimer’s in Prince Albert on Sunday. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Danita Aarrestad has seen her fair share of patients struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.

Her mother and grandmother both suffered from the disease, which affects thousands of Saskatchewan residents, and she’s seen many more in her role as a long-term caregiver and registered nurse.

On Sunday, she was out doing something about it.

Aarrestad was one of roughly 200 people who came out to raise money for programing and research at the 2018 Walk for Alzheimer’s in the Alfred Jenkins Field House.

“People don’t know what to do,” Aarrestad said when asked about the effects Alzheimer’s can have on families. “When my grandmother was dealing with it … there weren’t the resources that there are now, and that’s why I like to support (the walk.) The only way families can get through it is if they have help.”

Aarrestad says Alzheimer’s isn’t in the public consciousness as much as other diseases, but she predicts that will change as Canada’s largest demographic, the baby boomers, continue to age. That’s a sentiment shared by Alzheimer’s Society of Saskatchewan event coordinator Angela Klaassen.

She was in Prince Albert to help local volunteers run Sunday’s walk. She said Saskatchewan residents already have a strong grasp of how the disease works, but emphasized that there’s always room for improvement.

“There can always be more awareness, with it being such a growing concern with the aging population,” she said. “I think it’s always great to have more community awareness throughout Saskatchewan.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, roughly 19,000 Saskatchewan residents live with the disease, or with a related type of dementia. Funds raised from Sunday’s walk will help provide programming options for those residents and their families, while also funding Alzheimer’s-related research projects.

Klaassen said Sunday’s event was one of the most well-attended walks they’ve had in Prince Albert in some time.

Now, the Alzheimer’s Society of Saskatchewan is just hoping to build on that momentum.

As for walkers like Aarrestad, they’re hoping patients and their families will have more and more help in the future.

“Alzheimer’s is just coming to the forefront, and as an aging population, we’re just going to need more aging resources to deal with it,” she explained.