Sandee Hall - Kamloops Honouree
2023 IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer's
"Getting the diagnosis is frightening, and it hit me so hard at the beginning," Sandee Hall says, recounting the early days following her dementia diagnosis. "I said to myself, I'm not certain if I can fight it, but I will embrace it."
Sandee is a cheerful person with a great sense of humour. She focuses on the positive and isn’t afraid to share her concerns with her family and everyone. When she started experiencing cognitive changes, she managed them with the same optimistic and open approach.
Sandee used to work at a nursery, and for a short while, she could not recall the duties of her job. She knew then that something wasn’t right and years went by thinking that was normal. When she told her family that she was struggling, they didn’t suspect dementia at the time. Sandee’s symptoms were first attributed to medications she took for trigeminal neuralgia, a condition that causes nerve pain in the face.
When Sandee was searching for volunteer work in Kamloops, she came across a newspaper article about a memory test offered at a local clinic. The test showed memory loss and shortly afterwards, a PET scan confirmed her diagnosis of young onset dementia.
In 2019, a local medical clinic referred Sandee and her family to the Alzheimer Society of B.C., and she and her daughter followed up with an initial two-hour call to the Society’s Kamloops Resource Centre. Now, Sandee attends both in-person and online Minds in Motion® programs with her sister Sherry and her daughter Cheri-Leah, respectively, where they enjoy group exercises, followed by social time with people who understand the journey. Sandee considers her fellow program participants an extension of her family.
Sandee is appreciative of the support she has received from the Society: on support calls, Sandee says, "It's like talking to my best friend; I can just let everything out." Sandee also participated in an online coffee chat group in the past and while still attends the early-stage support group to share her experiences with others.
There are ups and downs in the dementia journey. When Sandee tells the people around her she has dementia, they are shocked and will comment, "You look and talk just fine.” Sandee will ask, “What am I supposed to look like?” This kind of stigma drives her to educate her community about the disease and its impact.
Sandee admits that she and her daughter Cheri-Leah do sometimes get frustrated with each other, but in other moments they’re able to laugh about it. Sandee loves keeping her mind sharp playing card games, dominoes and bridge both with her family and with her close friend (and bridge partner) Judy, who supports her along the way.
A final word of advice from Sandee: "Focus on the positive, not the negative. And be kind to yourself."
Join Sandee on Sunday, May 28 for the Kamloops IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer's. Together, we make memories matter.