The Alzheimer’s Society is keeping its Walk for Alzheimer’s online-only for the 2021 edition.

“We’re encouraging people to walk their own way,” the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Society of Muskoka Karen Quemby tells the newsroom. “They can do that throughout the month of May.”

This is the second year in a row that a virtual walk will be held. Quemby says over $35,745 was raised last year.

“We’re encouraging people to take videos and pictures and share their experience to help us raise awareness and raise some money,” she says, adding that you can walk every day, or just on May 30th when the annual walk is scheduled. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused changes to how the walk is done, Quemby says there’s a silver lining to it because now more people are able to participate. “We had a person with dementia last year who walked about her apartment and shared their experience and posted about it on Facebook,” she says.

If you want to participate this year, go to the Alzheimer’s Society’s website. You can register as an individual, or as a team, or you can just donate. “There are lots of ways to get involved,” Quemby says.

She says there are around 2,600 people in Muskoka and Parry Sound living with dementia. “It’s a very socially isolating disease and certainly with the pandemic we’ve seen that impact in even greater social isolation,” Quemby says. The average person might be feeling isolated now that we’re over a year into the pandemic, but for someone with dementia, the feeling of isolation is not new. Quemby says the pandemic has only heightened that feeling. “We’re finding that it’s a lot harder for them to do activities, there’s a lot less access to health and social programming, we know there are problems getting respite for caregivers,” she adds. 

“It’s tough to be in your home all the time,” Quemby says.

The society has moved most of their programming online so they stay in line with the current gathering restrictions in place in Ontario, but Qumeby says even that isn’t without its problems. She points out that some people may not have access to the internet or, especially with seniors, have trouble using the internet.

On top of the money raised locally last year, over $5 million was raised across Canada during last year’s campaign.