January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
Tannis Ehinger’s Alzheimer’s story is one of remembrance, love and an enduring dedication to raising awareness and helping others deal with the impacts of the disease.
It’s been four years since the Sage Creek resident lost her mom Norma to Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 62.
“She was 52 when she was diagnosed,” said Ehinger. “I was 20. My dad was still working full-time. We didn’t know where to turn. Throughout our journey, The Alzheimer’s Society was there with resources to help us feel like we were not alone and to understand the disease. My mom also benefitted from attending support groups with other people living with dementia.”
In appreciation, Ehinger keeps volunteering with the society as a spokesperson, with the annual fundraising gala and by taking part in the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s.
“Team Aloha is named for my mom’s favourite travel memories, but also because Aloha can mean hello, goodbye, compassion and love,” Ehinger explained.
“During the pandemic, we had to do the annual walk on our own. We did ours at St. Vital Park, then visited my mom, who is buried at the cemetery nearby. In 2022, the walk returned to being fully in-person and it was at St. Vital Park, so we kept the tradition that we had started. It was a special day.”
January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. According to the society, more than 18,400 Manitobans have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. This number is expected to reach over 39,100 by 2050.
Continuing to tell her story is important for Ehinger.
“We need to keep talking about dementia,” she said. “It’s incredibly hard to lose a loved one to this disease. You live and breathe it day-to-day with them. That’s why when it comes up in conversation with work colleagues or anyone I meet, I don’t hesitate to go into my experience and direct people to the society.”
Moving forward, Ehinger is determined to be a positive role model for her young children. Two of them never met their grandmother. Like her mom, Ehinger maintains a healthy lifestyle and challenges her mind with Sudoku and puzzles. She shares memories and photos of her mom at every opportunity.
“Even though the disease is about forgetting and losing, we shouldn’t forget our loved ones or lose sight of the future.”
Readers can contact the Alzheimer Society at 204-943-6622 or toll-free at 1-800-378-6699 or visit www.alzheimer.ca for information and support.
Royalwood community correspondent
Tanya Misseghers is a community correspondent for Royalwood.