Early diagnosis helps couple get back to living

carmenCarmen Robinson is a tall, beautiful woman with a warm smile and bright eyes. It’s no wonder that her husband, Iner, fell for her when they were both students at Bible College in Toronto.

“When he asked me out I nearly fell off my chair,” laughs Carmen.

But Carmen said yes and she fell for the handsome young man from a farm on Graphite Road.

Iner has also kept his good looks and he is charming, relaxed and happy to welcome friends into his home to talk about the past and the more difficult future the couple faces.

When Bible College finished Carmen and Iner decided to head off to Africa to work as missionaries, so they had to get married.

“We were married three weeks and then we sailed off,” Carmen says.

The couple worked all over Africa. They had four children, only one was born in Canada. They learned to speak Arabic and they took on different jobs.

At one point they were house parents to 115 children.

“It’s one thing to put the boys to bed,” Iner says. “It’s another to get them to stay there.”

The couple say they have no regrets. After spending years abroad they returned to the Bancroft area and Iner worked for Martin Lumber, in the Faraday Mines and also trained as a mechanic. Carmen was a nurse.

“We have no regrets,” she says.

The couple finish sentences for each other. They move and speak as though they are following intricate choreography.

But a few years ago things were not so graceful. Carmen noticed that Iner was having difficulty remembering people and places and words. She made the decision to get Iner checked out and was connected with Providence Care. Getting seen by specialists was not a quick process but eventually Iner was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“We’ve got good memories,” Iner says smiling.

And getting help early on is part of what helped this couple get back on track with the things they love. Professional supports were introduced, medications were monitored, changed and adjusted and now there is a familiar feeling back in the home.

“I was scared at first,” Carmen says. “There was dementia in his family – Iner’s mother had it and his grandmother. I’ll be frank – I was afraid.”

Carmen managed the medical side of things while encouraging Iner to keep his independence. He keeps active and they are still connected to community. They also connected with the North Hastings office of the Alzheimer Society of Belleville Hastings Quinte and Carmen says this really helped.

“It helps me as a caregiver to hear things from others,” Carmen says.

Carmen and Iner are supported by the Alzheimer’s Society and Carmen says it has made life easier. They love their time with Education and Support Coordinator Sarah Krieger.

“I’d like to take her home and keep her,” Carmen says about Sarah.

The support from the Society is on-going and as well as counselling for caregivers there are programs and special events that run through the year. There’s education and up to date information and that human touch that Carmen and Iner value.

So for now, the couple is managing on their own and they will face the challenges of the disease as they come.

Iner is committed to staying active and doing what he can to help around the home.

“I can do the dishes and vacuum,” Iner explains with a huge smile on his face. “We love to eat. We love to laugh.”

Carmen says Iner still goes shopping, with a list and they have a routine that they follow. He still loves watching hockey and she takes that time to paint. Iner made the decision on his own to stop driving but otherwise life continues in a positive way for the couple who have had a lifetime of adventures together.

As for what the future will bring, Carmen feels they have the support to face whatever comes their way. And for now they continue living a good life, thankful for an early diagnosis.

“We’re just comfortable together,” Carmen says. “That hasn’t changed.”

The Walk for Memories runs on Saturday January 18th from 9am to 1 pm at the North Hastings High School in Bancroft. The event will feature music, massage, face painting, a photo booth, manicures, a poker walk and a free Zumba class for those who like to dance. There will also be a memory tree set up for those who wish to share a photo or a memento during the walk. There will also be an amazing silent auction.

Everyone is welcome to participate in the Walk for Memories, to have a great day and to make happy memories while helping others in our community.

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