Jim Mann was once a world traveller. But the most difficult journey of his life began in a mundane location in 2007. While walking through a small airport, he suddenly realized he had no idea of where he was or what to do next.
Before long, the former sales and marketing executive was undergoing tests which led to a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 58.
The news made the Vancouver resident “hit the ground running,” determined to live as well as possible with the disease and to focus on issues such as awareness, stigma and stereotypes associated with dementia. Mann joined the boards of the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Alzheimer Society of BC, among other organizations.
He also joined AGE-WELL and was recruited in 2015 to be a member of the network’s Research Management Committee, where he plays a role in reviewing research proposals and providing recommendations on research priorities and budget allocations.
“I advocate for assistive technologies that are going to contribute to living well with dementia in the home or in the community,” says Mann, who supports AGE-WELL’s commitment to involving older people and caregivers in all stages of the research and development process.
In fact, thousands of older adults and caregivers are involved with AGE-WELL. This is how the network ensures that products are practical and useful. For example, end users participate in research projects, share their experiences and perspectives, and provide feedback on the relevancy of research proposals.
Mann appreciates the fact that AGE-WELL has knowledge transfer “high on its list of priorities.” It is also working hard at commercializing the innovations that are being developed, he says, and is determined to make them as accessible and affordable as possible.
Mann, who cared for his mother with Alzheimer’s, notices the progression of the disease in himself. “There are changes, and I am not getting any better,” he allows. But he feels “fortunate that I have been able to delay some of the significant memory issues” by staying busy with his volunteer activities.
“I’m challenging myself while I’m also advocating for myself and for others,” he adds.
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications . The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.