Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Considerations for the Holidays for Families of Persons with Dementia

  1. Take your time. Synchronize your pace to that of your family member with dementia. The holiday season is about enjoying quality time with family and friends, and excessive entertaining activities can be overwhelming.
  2. Plan one activity at a time. Multitasking can lead to frustration.
  3. Understand if your family member doesn’t seem to appreciate the efforts of preparing an elaborate dinner. They may be happy to just be in your company and get anxious with all of the activity and fuss involved in meal preparation. On the other hand, they might really enjoy helping with the preparations for the holiday meal.
  4. Consider the noise level and multiple distractions. These can impact a person with dementia
    when large groups of family or friends are gathered together and do not be offended if your family member wants to go home immediately after eating dinner.
  5. Be considerate of the words “do you remember.” Do not pressure a person to reminisce and
    remember specifics if the memories do not easily come. Consider reflections based on phrases like “I remember when we used to go to…” or “How I enjoyed that holiday when we….”
  6. Share photo albums of previous holiday celebrations. This can assist with a relaxing form of
  7. Allow for a quiet space for a family member with dementia to relax. They may need a brief time to rejuvenate to continue with the activities of the season.
  8. Set priorities and a routine for the holidays in advance. Decide what is most important for you and your family member with dementia and focus on those priorities.
  9. Include the person with dementia in decisionmaking and priority setting around the holiday plans. Listen--really listen--to their preferences and hopes for the holidays.
  10. Have fun!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

University of Waterloo's youngest financial donor continues to support MAREP

In 2008, Boaz Van Veen was four years old. His parents told him about the efforts of the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP), and he knew immediately that he would give his savings–$170–to support the project founded by his much-loved and admired family friend, "Grampa Ken."

Garage sale
Now, at the age of 8 years old, Boaz knows that the money he earns in various ways–through garage sales, birthday gifts, even contributions from the tooth fairy–can be used for something special, something much bigger than himself.
“Boaz understands that he is fortunate to have so much and that sharing with others is important. He has learned that there is a time for giving and a time for receiving,” 
says Boaz’s mother, Gael Van Veen.  

In the Fall of this year, Boaz raised $295 and donated all of his savings to MAREP again during a special lunch with University of Waterloo President, Feridun Hamdullahpur (October, 2012).
Waterloo President, Feridun Hamdullahpur, and Boaz
Boaz, the University of Waterloo’s youngest donor, presented his second gift to MAREP during a special lunch with University of Waterloo President, Feridun Hamdullahpur in October 2012.

Attending the special lunch was also Boaz’s parents (Gael and David Van Veen), MAREP’s founder Ken Murray and his wife Marilyn, and Associate Director of Research, MAREP–Lisa Loiselle.

Ken Murray, Boaz, and Lisa Loiselle

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

New website launches to assist those with dementia and their families

WATERLOO, Ont. (Wednesday, November 7, 2012) – A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia leaves both the person with the illness and their family members with many unanswered questions.  Researchers at the University of Waterloo and McMaster University are leading a project that has resulted in the creation of a new web-based resource that provides valuable information that will help navigate the journey of living with dementia.

Launching today, the Living with Dementia website ( was designed to provide persons newly diagnosed with dementia and those who care for them with the information and resources needed to live well with an illness causing dementia. This new research-based website, available in both English and French, was created in collaboration with persons living with dementia and their family members and care providers.

“I would have been ecstatic to have walked away from my doctor’s office with this information; something that would allow me to be proactive and give me a sense of direction, instead of sitting in my car crying and feeling hopeless,” said Brenda Hounam, who was diagnosed with dementia 10 years ago. “This website is a lifeline. It is a place to get safe, hopeful information.”

The website covers a wide range of information with topics identified by those living with dementia, including answers to questions surrounding health care, how to continue living well with dementia, how to ensure they are receiving the right care and support to meet their needs, and how to begin the process of planning for the future. 

“Persons with dementia and their families can continue to live well and have meaningful lives when they have the information and resources available to support them in doing that.” said Sherry Dupuis, co-investigator and Director of the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP) at the University of Waterloo. “What makes this resource unique is that it was developed specifically by persons with dementia and their care partners working actively with our extensive team of researchers, educators, health professionals, pharmacists, and family health team representatives. This ensures it is relevant and easily accessible to persons and families diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another related dementia.”

Carrie McAiney, co-investigator, and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University adds that this resource will be a valuable tool for professional health care providers and community organizations supporting those whose lives are touched by dementia.  "This project will help physicians, pharmacists, Alzheimer Societies and others find ways to integrate the Living With Dementia resource into their everyday practice so it can be shared with those living with dementia and their family members,” she said.


The Kenneth G. Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP) is a unit of the Schlegel-UW Research Institute of Aging. Based in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo, MAREP is an innovative program that adopts an authentic partnership approach and integrates research and educational activities in an effort to improve dementia care practices in Canada and beyond. Its goal is to enhance the ability of all involved in dementia care, including persons with dementia, their family partners in care, and professional care partners, to respond to the needs of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and ultimately improve the quality of life of all those experiencing dementia. For more information about MAREP, visit

About the University of Waterloo

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit

About McMaster University

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 156,000 alumni in 140 countries.

For further information about MAREP and the Living with Dementia, contact:
Lisa Loiselle, Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP), 519-888-4567, ext. 35040 or

Media Contacts:

Pamela Smyth, University of Waterloo, 519-888-4777 or email:

Veronica McGuire, McMaster University Health Sciences, 905-525-9140, ext. 22169 or email:

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