Congratulations to YouQuest on their 1st Anniversary!

I was diagnosed with young-onset dementia at age 48. Dementia stole my career, my workplace friendships, and the ability to prepare for retirement.

Until my diagnosis I had been engaged in my community and active in many sports. Suddenly, I was home alone, bored and becoming more isolated as time dragged on. There was little for me to enjoy day after day while my wife Cindy was at work and the kids were at school.

Cindy and I looked into day programs for me, but since they are intended for seniors, they weren’t suitable for my interests or activity level. Thankfully Cindy and her friend Myrla Bulman were determined to fill this service gap with the first active community for Calgarians under age 65 living with young-onset dementia.

All the preparation paid off on September 27, 2018, when YouQuest celebrated its first service day in partnership with SAIT Recreation. One year later, I – and others with a diagnosis similar to mine – look forward to getting out of the house to do the things we enjoyed before we ever heard of young-onset dementia.

It seems there’s something for everyone at YouQuest. Caring volunteers and skilled recreation therapists support and encourage us in all we do, and value our opinions and suggestions.

Days full of choices
Our morning begins with ordering a coffee or tea at the Odyssey and joining in great discussions from current events to sharing tips on how to navigate the world of dementia. Then we lace up and choose a morning wellness activity: court sports, working out on the fitness equipment, or practicing yoga and meditation. Having worked up an appetite, we gather for lunch where we might laugh about our performance on the badminton court that morning or discuss what’s going on with our families and friends.

Fortunately Calgary is filled with many interesting places to visit so we’re often out exploring the city and beyond. Via public transit we have gone to the Zoo, the new Calgary library, and even the Dior exhibit at the Glenbow Museum. As one volunteer said recently, “I’ve seen more of Calgary with YouQuest in the last year than in all my years in the city!”

Thanks to donations and the DREAMS Bus, we’ve ventured to the Hangar Flight Museum to soak up some history, and to Fish Creek Park and Kananaskis for barbeques and day hikes. Our days always end with music, usually courtesy of our own house band, the YouQuest All Stars.

Celebrating our community
Days at YouQuest are positive and we make a point of celebrating birthdays as well as each other’s achievements. In this photo, a group of friends congratulated me on my streak of playing disc golf for 900 days in a row! My streak ended at 918 days for a very exciting reason, but that’s a story for another day …

I’d like to turn the tables and wish a very Happy Birthday to YouQuest – and many happy returns of the day!

By John McCaffery