Terry Monroe, this year’s Investors Group Walk for Memories for the Alzheimer Society of B.C. honouree, has always been known for her cheerful attitude and beautiful smile.
She was born in Dunfanaghy, County Donegal, Ireland to a farm family of nine children.
“All we knew was the farm. We had to herd cattle, carry peat, pick stones for the fences and help with the crops of oats, turnips and potatoes,” said Terry, who will be 89 on Feb. 18.
After the end of the Second World War, she and a friend went to take nursing training in Britain and worked there before coming to Canada.
“I loved nursing. Then I came with some other girls to Canada for work. We came on the ship Samaria to Halifax, then to Montreal,” she said.
Terry worked nursing on the Prairies, then in New Westminster where she married Bill, and they raised their family of four children in Quesnel.
“Mom could always find fun in everything. We would work hard but she was always cheerful,” said her daughter, Sheila Monroe.
“She really did teach us how to do what we could with what we had. We had fun as a family cooking and canning and camping. I remember how we would go to the Coast to see the daffodils in the spring.”
The family noticed changes in Terry a few years ago.
“She was losing things and getting lost. We were trying to figure out what was going on. We asked for a community care assessment from Interior Health and got a lot of information and support from the Alzheimer Society of B.C.,” said Sheila.
“It is a loss but I don’t want people to be fearful when they get that diagnosis. You have what you have — it’s what you do with it. It’s still possible to have a good quality of life.
“There is a change in attitude now. I want people to know that there is no scientific evidence for a genetic connection for Alzheimer disease.”
Terry, who lives at Noric House, enjoys church services, crafts like making bird feeders and walking as much as she is able. Her room is full of familiar objects and family photos, including her those of her nine grandchildren. She goes out a couple of times a week to their activities, to Minds in Motion, an Alzheimer Society-sponsored group with mind and body exercises, and other events, and likes to have visitors.
“We are grateful to the Noric staff. What our family has done is ask other people to help in taking Mom out and visiting. We have a wonderful family of the heart,” said Sheila.
The Vernon Investors Group Walk for Memories for the Alzheimer Society of B.C. takes place Sunday at Kal Tire Place at 9:30 a.m. with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. People can choose to walk around the arena, skate, or take part in the team Stair Challenge, a new event this year. The money raised goes to support local programs and services for people with all types of dementia and their families, as well as research.
To register for the walk or to make a donation, see www.walkfor memories.com.
This year’s theme for January’s Alzheimer Awareness Month is “The 72%,” in recognition of the fact that 72 per cent of Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
Women account for 70 per cent of family caregivers.
There are 70,000 people in B.C. with some form of dementia.
The risk of dementia doubles every five years after age 65.
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. provides education, information, support and programs for people with dementia and their families and caregivers.
Andy Erickson, division director of Investors Group in Vernon, thanks all who attend the Walk for Memories to raise funds for local programs. He also expressed his thanks to Ray Riva at Grounds Guys, Cheryl Paris, Dr. Steve Hoffman and his staff at Blue Bird Sport & Spine, and Diane Neudorf at Nurse Next Door.