Awareness Month 2024: Brenda

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

AAM2024 spokesperson pic Brenda

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 Brenda Wong – whose mother, Chui Foon Chou, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2006 – the past 17 years have been challenging but filled with heartwarming moments and opportunities to learn.

Brenda's initial reaction to her mother’s diagnosis reflected a common stereotype about dementia – that her memory loss meant an immediate departure. "I thought she would leave us soon," says Brenda. 

However, the reality unfolded quite differently for Foon and Brenda. Connecting with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and its invaluable workshops enabled Brenda and her family to understand what dementia is all about and helped Brenda stay calm when dealing with her mother’s symptoms.  

Early on, Foon was independent and able to take care of herself, continuing to participate in games like mahjong with her friends. As the disease progressed, though, she began to find it difficult to keep up. 

Witnessing and responding to Foon’s changing abilities and behaviour has constant adjustment but they continue to find to be unexpected joy, especially through participating in the Alzheimer Society of B.C.'s Minds in Motion®, where light exercises and social activities – like a more leisurely mahjong – have helped keep her active. 

Another silver lining that Brenda has discovered is a surprising side of her mother's personality. While Foon has always been a shy person, her dementia has made her less inhibited and she has started to sing, especially in front of others. "Music is therapeutic for her,” Brenda says. “She enjoys the old tunes she is familiar with, and it creates moments of calm for her." 

Balancing caregiving with personal time, adjusting her routine to reflect her mother’s needs, demands unwavering dedication and resilience. "Though sometimes it is hard, regardless, Mom is still the priority over my schedule," says Brenda. 

The support Brenda receives from the First Link® Dementia Helpline has been tremendously helpful, providing a sense of community, understanding and guidance – especially in navigating the health-care system. Brenda encourages others in similar situations to seek help, to take the initiative in understanding dementia and to lean on the support systems available. 

While Foon has progressed and is now in the later stages of the disease – making it harder for her to interact with others – Brenda and her family continue to treasure every moment with her. They prepare her favourite food, like a home-made durian cake, make YouTube music playlists of her favourite music and chat with her about old memories.  

Brenda durian cake AAM2024 spokesperson

(Durian cake Brenda made for her mom)

"The caregiving journey is a story of embracing the present and finding peace in shared memories," says Brenda. “I hope our family experiences will encourage others who embark on similar paths to live with courage and seek support as their needs arise.” 

Learn more about the campaign

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