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Virtual dementia tour to highlight ‘Alzheimer Month’

Families and caregivers of those with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease will be able to gain insight as to what it is like to experience the world like their loved ones when the Alzheimer Society of Kenora-Rainy River Districts brings a free virtual dementia tour to Fort Frances next week to coincide with “Alzheimer Awareness Month.”

These will be held at the Super 8 Motel here next Wednesday (Jan. 11) from 1-7 p.m., and the public is welcome to sign up and participate.

“This is the first time the virtual dementia tour has been conducted in the Fort Frances area,” noted Lynn Moffatt, executive director of the local Alzheimer Society, noting it was first offered in Kenora last year.

“Basically what the virtual dementia tour is it’s a chance for individuals to learn what it feels like to walk in the shoes of someone that is affected with dementia,” she explained.

Eleanor Barron, the Alzheimer Society’s “First Link” and public education co-ordinator for Fort Frances and surrounding area, will be leading participants in groups of two on the tour, which takes about 20 minutes.

Participants will wears gloves, goggles, shoe inserts, and headphones to alter their perceptions and impair their ability to do daily tasks.

Barron will ask them to do five different tasks once they enter into a room, which they will find quite difficult to do as they will feel disoriented.

“Participants do find that it gives them a better understanding of what the person who has Alzheimer’s is going through,” said Moffatt.

“People have come back and said, ‘We’ve learned that we need to talk a little bit softer and much slower for the individual, and to only mention one task,’” she noted.

“People have gone through the tour and said, ‘You know what, I was given all five tasks but unfortunately, I could only remember to do two tasks.’”

Those interested in participating must register beforehand. To book a tour, call 1-800-682-0245 or e-mail

The Rainycrest Family Council also will be at the Jan. 11 event to provide information to the public.

Moffatt said the virtual dementia tour is a regular program of the local Alzheimer Society. If people can’t make it next Wednesday, they can contact the Alzheimer Society to arrange a time to conduct tours for a particular group or organization.

Typically, the Alzheimer Society provides them for health-care workers and caregivers.

Moffatt noted it gives them a better understanding of what those they’re caring for are coping with on a daily basis, and consequently improves communication and care strategies.

Other events

The virtual dementia tour won’t be the only Alzheimer Society event in store here this month.

It will be Alzheimer Movie Day on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 1:30 p.m. at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre. Stop by for cake and a movie.

As well, the ever-popular Alzheimer book sale and penny weigh-in will take place Jan. 19-Jan. 21 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. each day at Revco Carpet.

Book-lovers can drop by the store, fill a bag with books, and then make a donation to the Alzheimer Society.

The public is encouraged to donate gently-used book by dropping them off at Revco (located at 950 Fifth St. W.) by Saturday, Jan. 14.

Moffatt also is asking the public to bring in their pennies over those three days, get them weighed and donate them.

As in past years, whoever brings in the most weight in pennies wins a prize (pennies do not have to be rolled).

Proceeds from the event will go towards further promotion of Alzheimer awareness and education in both districts.

Moffatt said she is looking for volunteers to help out with the book sale and penny weigh-in at Revco, as well as throughout the year.

“Volunteers are so vital to the success of the organization,” she stressed, adding people can help out with everything from educational events to fundraisers.

“We try to meet with the volunteers,” Moffatt explained.

“We want to learn what they’re interested in and what their skills are because if they are going to volunteer with the organization, we want to be able to find them a project that they’re going to enjoy doing,” she reasoned.

It’s also a good opportunity for high school students to complete their volunteer hours needed to graduate.

To get involved, contact the Alzheimer Society at 1-800-682-0245 or via e-mail at

Finally, the Linda Johnston Memorial Dinner will be held Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Rainy River.

The very popular roast beef dinner, which gets underway at 5 p.m., once again will feature a “Chairs for Charity” raffle and penny table.

Tickets cost $13 each, which can be purchased by calling the Rainy River Record office at 852-3366.

While the Alzheimer Society will not hold a “Chefs’ Charitable Dinner and Auction” here this year, it will be trying something new with a fundraising dinner, entitled “Spring Reflections,” which is planned for Saturday, March 24 at La Place Rendez-Vous.

In addition to dinner, the evening will feature entertainment and a silent auction.

Tickets, which cost $65 each (a tax receipt for $35 will be issued) or $520 for a table of eight, are available now by calling 1-800-682-0245.

In other news the local Alzheimer Society also is asking for entries for its 2012-13 cash calendar photo contest.

The categories are nature, landscapes, gardens/flowers, and lake scenery.

To participate, contact the Alzheimer Society for an entry form and details at 1-800-682-0245 or via e-mail at or

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