Awareness Month 2024: Art

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

art 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 Art Harrison. Having already experienced dementia from the perspective of a caregiver, Art now finds himself facing his own diagnosis. 

Originally from the West Kootenay region, Art and his wife recently made the big move to Vancouver to be closer to her daughter. Having a significant family history of Alzheimer’s disease, Art was not surprised when he received a diagnosis after having his spinal fluid tested at the UBC Brain Health Centre in June 2019, but he was relieved to have an explanation. "My mother had Alzheimer’s Disease when I was a teenager; I saw her decline over the years before she passed away. Then I watched two of brothers go through it as well,” Art says.  

Once a successful employment counsellor in social services for 13 years, Art transitioned to tech support due to burnout. Recognizing the demand for IT support, he enrolled in courses to deepen his understanding. Despite excelling in the past, Art encountered a roadblock while attempting to pass an online Microsoft course, prompting him to confront and overcome this unexpected professional challenge.  So, when Art finally received his diagnosis, he was relieved to have answers as to why he was struggling at work. "It was a big hit, but it is what it is. There's no changing it. I've got a loving family, spouse and children, so I carry on." 

Before witnessing the disease as a caregiver and his own firsthand experience of it, Art held misconceptions about it that were influenced by media. “I think many people still just think of it in terms of what they may have seen in the popular media; TV shows or movies, where it is more of a comical situation where it’s only old people who just ‘forget stuff.’ They perhaps don’t understand that it can alter your whole life,” he says. His own experience has shattered these preconceived notions.  

Having lost his job and having to come to terms with losing his driving privileges soon, Art is undeterred. He channels his resilience into his passions, writing a Substack blog with around a few dozen dedicated followers and aspiring to revive his connection with music. The move to Vancouver, despite its challenges, has brought unexpected benefits as Art and his wife embrace a new pace of life, exploring the city on foot. Despite uncertainty, Art's commitment to creativity has become a source of joy and purpose. 

"Everything has become more meaningful. Every relationship, every meal, seeing children or dogs or any kind of wildlife when we’re out walking," Art says.  

Art's involvement with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. has been instrumental in his journey. Online programs and support groups have connected him with others facing similar challenges. "It’s a good thing to see others on a similar journey managing their lives and hearing their stories." 

As Art reflects on his dementia journey, he emphasizes finding peace and contentment. "Live in the now. Be kind now, love now, laugh now, cry now, be who you are and embrace the human experience. It's all we have. Remember, we are human and none of us are meant to live forever. Life goes on and so should you." 

Learn more about the campaign

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