Saturday, April 09, 2011
I have met Premier Ralph Klein a few times. I have always found him to be warm and witty. I was saddened to read of his recent diagnosis of fronto temporal dementia. This will b a hard road ahead for his wife and family. I have watched grown children cry as their elderly parents have looked at them and asked who they are.
We can all do something. Support charities that do research on dementia. If we know people who suffer with dementia, don't forget the caregiver. Offer to help with tasks or to stay with the individual. Caregivers often become ill themselves and burn out. Offer your friendship and company to caregivers.
I am sure the generous people of Alberta will help the Klein family as much as they can. My thoughts and prayers are with Mr Klein and his family especially his wife Collen, who inevitably bear the brunt of this illness.
In Ralph and Colleen Klein's cosy living room in Calgary's southwest, sadness and tears mingle with occasional laughter as Colleen finally tells the full story of the former Alberta premier's failing health.
Mrs. Klein does almost all the talking, because Ralph can't. The quickest tongue in Canadian politics is being silenced by a progressive form of dementia.
After months of uncertainty -and long delays in seeing specialists -the Kleins learned last Friday that Mr. Klein, 68, suffers from what's called "frontal temporal dementia, consistent with primary progressive aphasia."
For Mr. Klein, that means extreme difficulty in recalling and comprehending words, as well as reading and writing. His speech, once fluid and lightning-fast, is now limited to short words and set phrases.