Message from the CEO
As we head into the holiday season, I wanted to share some thoughts with you.
The holidays can be a tough time of year. I will be honest I don’t enjoy this time of year as much as I used to. Yes, I look forward to having time to spend with my two kids, but when I head out to visit my mum, I admit that what used to be time I looked forward to, is now stressful. My mum is 97 and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was 79.
This will be her fifth Christmas in long-term care, and the visits get harder every time.
I hold her hand, talk about my new job at AST, but I never get the reply or response I foolishly still believe will come. I usually leave these visits sad, with the grief very palpable. Yet alongside the grief, I am grateful to the PSWs for all they do for my mum every day, which I cannot. I try to carry that gratitude with me every day in the work we do at AST.
I’d like to take a moment to reflect on everything we have achieved together over the past year at AST. It is my hope for those of you who are on the dementia journey as well, that you have found the support and compassion you needed here at AST.
- Over 12,000 individuals participated in AST programming including education, social worker support and our Active Living Programs
- We expanded our services to traditionally underserved communities with the opening of the Mid-Scarborough Community Hub
- We graduated 1,900 professionals from specialized education on Dementia care, improving the lives of those they care for
I appreciate the incredible dedication from all of our staff that allows us to be there for individuals living with dementia and their care partners. I wish you could witness first-hand the laughter in the room during our Mid-Town Social, or the joy during Snuggle and Sway. Our programs, workshops and support groups have a meaningful impact on individuals living with dementia, their families and care partners. None of which is possible without you.
As we look forward to the new year, I have hope for the future. This past year saw a historic first in the fight for finding a treatment for Alzheimer’s. A new drug therapy called lecanemab (brand name Leqembi) was submitted to Health Canada for consideration. If Leqembi is approved, it would be Canada’s first treatment for Alzheimer’s disease—not just its symptoms. It’s only one small step in a long journey ahead, but it’s an important one and gives me hope for the future.
On behalf of all our team here at AST, I wish you all the best this holiday season.
Chief Executive Officer
Alzheimer Society of Toronto