Awareness Month 2024: Mardi

Meet one of the British Columbians sharing their stories as part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month this year.

mardi spokesperson pic 2024AAM

While many people still believe a dementia diagnosis marks the end of a meaningful life, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is committed to flipping the script this Alzheimer’s Awareness Month by shedding light on the extraordinary stories of people who have discovered unexpected joy, peace and happiness while navigating the challenges of the disease. Our community has shown us that, despite the difficulties, living with dementia can inspire profound appreciation for the present. 

Throughout January, we are sharing the stories of people like Mardi Denis, a dedicated caregiver and former occupational health nurse. 

Mardi’s journey began years before her husband Larry finally received an official diagnosis of Frontotemporal dementia in February 2021. When she initially noticed changes in him, she reached out to the Alzheimer Society of B.C. for information. 

Larry, a native of Cornwall, Ontario, had shared a very good life with Mardi since their marriage in 1964. Together, they moved to the West Coast, where they embraced an active lifestyle, camping and revelling in nature with their young son and daughter. 

While Larry had always been a critical person and Mardi was accustomed to dealing with his comments, something changed four years ago and Mardi began to become anxious and uncomfortable about them. Mardi started to realize something wasn’t right when Larry began disappearing to the property they owned in Chilliwack, unwilling to let her come with him. Only later did Mardi and her son realize Larry had been hoarding on the property and the living situation was deplorable. This discovery caused Mardi a lot of guilt and sadness. 

Things came to a head in 2021 when Mardi sought out help from emergency services, ultimately leading to Larry’s diagnosis and transition into long-term care in Coquitlam, where he currently resides. “The diagnosis brought a mix of relief and challenges into my life. But, with the unwavering support of my cherished network of family, friends, Fraser Health professionals and the Alzheimer Society of B.C. I learned to navigate the complexities of caregiving, finding strength in community and discovering a new chapter of resilience," says Mardi. 

Mardi now actively participates in an Alzheimer Society of B.C. support group in New Westminster, finding solace and empowerment among her peers. Drawing on her extensive experience as an occupational health nurse, she offers suggestions to fellow caregivers, emphasizing the importance of advocacy and self-care. 

"Dementia is a difficult diagnosis," Mardi reflects. "But it helps to reassure the people who just got diagnosed that there is help for them and we are here to support them." 

Mardi's resilience extends beyond her caregiving role. Balancing rest and a vibrant social life, she finds strength in activities like walking her King Charles Spaniel, Charlotte and attending regular gatherings with friends. Mardi encourages caregivers to prioritize their well-being, recognizing their crucial role in the lives of people with dementia. 

Having been connected with the Alzheimer Society for B.C. for seven years, Mardi acknowledges the immense support she has received. Even during the challenging times of COVID-19, First Link® check-in calls provided a sense of care and understanding. She expresses gratitude for her daughter's advocacy in placing Larry in a care home and for the ongoing support from friends and family. 

Mardi's unexpected discovery on this journey has been the ability to find humour in stories and statements from Larry. Yet, the most profound sentiment is the sense of relief, knowing that both she and Larry are now safe and cared for. In the midst of uncertainty, seek help early, become an advocate and cherish the invaluable support provided by organizations like the Alzheimer Society of B.C. Remember, even in the face of adversity, with community support, people can still lead meaningful lives."

Learn more about the campaign

Want to learn more? Read some of the other stories being shared throughout the month at