Mayor Rebecca Alty has declared January as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a move advocate Martha MacLellan says will bring awareness to those who most need to access supports available in the North.

“A lot of people still don’t know that we have an office in Yellowknife or that we work across the territory unless they have a family member or a close friend that has Alzheimer’s.”

The declaration Alty read at a Monday council meeting states the number of Canadian’s living with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to double by 2031. More than 564,000 Canadians live with the disease today. While the numbers are smaller for the NWT, most people come to MacLellan in later stages of the disease or during crises so the need is still great.

MacLellan, who is the regional lead for the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories, says she works very closely with families including in the communities. As travel there is prohibitive, her organization has started a dementia ambassador program which will have ambassadors in six communities this year.

“We offer them training here in Yellowknife for three days and then they go back to the communities and they’re there for support for the people who have Alzheimer’s.”

The organization also hosts two support groups in Yellowknife: a spouse group on the second Thursday of the month and a group for adult children of people with Alzheimer’s and long distance caregivers on the last Monday of the month.

The society is holding their annual High Tea fundraiser Saturday at the Northern United Place. The event is sold out for the first time in its seven-year history and a waitlist has been started for anyone hoping to attend.