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Events encourage community connection at New Brunswick nursing home

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Under the sunshine and alongside friends and family, residents from the Westford Nursing Home in Port Elgin, N.B., laced up their shoes on Friday for this year’s Walk of Alzheimer’s.

“We do have a number of younger residents here who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so as far as them giving back, a lot of them are giving back to themselves kind of almost as well,” said Karen Coffin, activity coordinator.

Small groups of residents took on the approximate 500 metre track as a way to make a difference and raise awareness.

“I think it’s important to support Alzheimer’s research because there is a history of Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family,” said resident Mark Webb, who said he was thinking of those members during that time.

Along the way there were also balloons and fact sheets about the disease.

The Westford Nursing Home in New Brunswick hosted a Walk of Alzheimer's on May 24, 2024. (Source: Alana Pickrell/CTV News Atlantic)“Certainly the number of people who live with dementia and Alzheimer’s, who are under the age of 65, surprised me and the fact that there’s so many more being diagnosed under that age now and one of the big ones is also that 65 per cent of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are women,” said Coffin.

Ninety-six-year-old Margaret O’Connor was one of the first out the door to participate.

“I was a nurse, so I like helping people and when my daughter and I get together, this is what we do and it’s just good,” she said. “It’s a good organization, they do a lot of good work and I think it’s worthwhile.”

This is the first year since the COVID-19 pandemic the home has been able to invite family, friends and the community to be a part of it and they took it one step further with a BBQ, yard sale and farmers market.

Coffin says the hope was to raise money for the residents who call Westford home.

The Westford Nursing Home in New Brunswick hosted a Walk of Alzheimer's on May 24, 2024. (Source: Alana Pickrell/CTV News Atlantic)“We do have budgets that are given to us that cover their nursing needs, their physical needs and those type of things, when it comes to community needs and making connections in their communities […] those things are not part of what we are budgeted for,” she said.

June Tebo is a regular at the farmers market with her booth, In My Doghouse Treats, and she also works at Westford.

“This is a way that we can have our market, take our table fee that we would normally pay and just donate it to the nursing home,” she said. “There’s a lot of people that work here from the community. It’s all about the community, so we’re all behind it.”

The Westford Nursing Home in New Brunswick hosted a Walk of Alzheimer's on May 24, 2024. (Source: Alana Pickrell/CTV News Atlantic)Two separate monetary goals were set for the event.

Residents were looking to raise $250 for the Alzhimer’s Society of New Brunswick -- by lunch hour on Friday they had already exceeded that goal.

Through the yard sale, BBQ and market, the hope was to raise around $1,000 to go back to the residents in the form of activities and events including bus tours, community outings and Margaret’s favourite: “We go out and have an ice cream cone, which I love,” she said.

Without the money being counted, Coffin says the entire day was a huge success.

“Community is huge and in a small town where everybody knows everybody and they were kind of blocked off from the community since 2020, it’s kind of nice to be able to see people face to face and make those reconnections and to chat and feel normal,” she said. “It’s just wonderful to see the smiles that we had today.”

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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