Fernando and Maria Costa and Ted and Mona Girard join Brantford-Brant MPP Will Bouma, Daisy Wai, MPP for Richmond Hill, and Mary Burnett, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Brant, Haldimand Norfolk, Hamilton Halton, in the garden of the society’s Brantford location on Thursday for a funding announcement.

Mark Gemmell, fitness instructor at the Alzheimer Society of Brant, Haldimand Norfolk, Hamilton Halton’s location in Brantford, arm wrestles Ted Girard, a client, while Ted’s wife, Mona, provides a helping hand on Thursday. They were at the Brantford office for a funding announcement in support of individuals and families dealing with dementia. Vincent Ball jpg, BR
Ted Girard wasn’t too bothered Thursday when he had trouble remembering the last name of his exercise coach.
“What the heck?” Girard, 80, said with a laugh. “I’m not supposed to be able to remember his name.
“I’ve got Alzheimer’s.”
Diagnosed six years ago, Girard is a client of the Alzheimer’s Society of Brant Haldimand Norfolk Hamilton, Halton, and participates in Minds in Motion, an exercise program offered at the society’s Brantford location at 25 Bell Lane.
“It’s a great program — keeps me going and active,” Girard said. “I’m here twice a week and I love it.”
He called exercise coach Mark Gemmell a “great guy.
“I just can’t say enough about the programs here.”
After Girard was diagnosed, he and his wife, Mona, immediately got involved with the Alzheimer’s Society.
“The doctor told me to get involved in some programs right away and we did,” he said.
“We drove straight to the Alzheimer’s Society from the doctor’s office and we’ve been coming here ever since.”
The Girards were among those at a Thursday news conference highlighting the importance of programs for those dealing with dementia.
Organized by Brantford-Brant MPP Will Bouma, the event was held to announce funding for two local programs and a provincial initiative.
Locally, Creative Expressions, a program offered by the Alzheimer’s Society, is getting a $19,000 boost from the province.
“This is a new program that we just started within the last two months that offers art classes for those who have early or mid-stage dementia and their care partners,” said Mary Burnett, the local Alzheimer’s Society’s CEO. “We’re thrilled to be receiving this funding because we know, based on our experiences, that it is an effective program that up until recently, we haven’t been able to offer in Brantford.”
The program gives participants a chance to create and explore art individually and with a group.
Bouma, accompanied by Richmond Hill MPP Daisy Wai, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, and Brantford Coun. Richard Carpenter, also announced a $25,000 grant to the Seniors for Seniors program offered by the city and $600,000 to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario to deliver the Finding Your Way program.
Finding Your Way is intended to prevent people with dementia from wandering and to ensure a safe return if they do. It provides tools and advice for individuals, caregivers and the community to recognize and reduce the risk of someone with dementia from going missing.
“Every minute counts when a senior goes missing,” Bouma said. “We’re committed to helping seniors with dementia in Brantford-Brant and Six Nations stay safe.
“We’re protecting what matters most to help seniors live independently in our community.”
It wasn’t immediately clear how much of the $600,000 allotted to the program would be spent in Brantford-Brant.
There are an estimated 240,000 seniors in Ontario living with dementia and more than half are at risk of wandering and going missing, Bouma said.
“This is new funding that includes working with police to promote Find Your Way resources in the community.”
The program includes seminars for individuals, caregivers and front-line officers to educate and promote awareness.
The dangers of seniors with dementia was highlighted in Brantford in February when 93-year-old woman with dementia wandered from her home in -25C weather. Police were already searching the area as part of stabbing investigation, which they called off to concentrate on the missing woman. She was found a short time later about 650 metres from her home.
An estimated 50 per cent of people who go missing for 24 hours risk serious injury or death from exposure, hypothermia or drowning, according to a statement from the provincial government.
“We’re grateful for this investment by the provincial government,” Burnett said.
“Programs like Finding Your Way are an important part of the spectrum of services necessary to ensure persons living with dementia can live well as vital and integral members of their community.”