Awareness Month 2023: Mike

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

older man and woman walking away from camera arm in arm

One in two British Columbians believe that a dementia diagnosis means the end of a meaningful life – but this is not the case at all.  Throughout January, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is recognizing Alzheimer’s Awareness Month by flipping the script on stigma associated with dementia and highlighting amazing individuals on the dementia journey who continue to find moments of joy, peace and happiness despite the many challenges of the disease. British Columbians affected by dementia continue to live full and meaningful lives, showing those around them to enjoy today. 

Among those sharing their story is Mike, a caregiver in Vancouver, B.C. Mike’s wife was first diagnosed with some mild cognitive impairment in March 2021. She was referred to the UBC Brain Health Centre and it was there, in May 2021, that she was diagnosed with symptoms consistent with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. 

“My initial reaction was a mixture of relief and validation. We had an explanation for the issues we were experiencing – but also depression and awareness of where we were likely headed,” Mike recalls. His wife met the diagnosis with worry, fear of the future and what others would think. “She grew up in a small town, where everybody knew everything about everybody’s business. She is a very private person and doesn’t want to be treated differently.” 

This fear of stigma has kept her from wanting to share with everyone that she has dementia, so they have only told a very small circle of local friends and their children about her diagnosis. 

After the initial shock of the diagnoses passed, Mike found himself on the Alzheimer Society of B.C. website, looking up programs and signing up for newsletters and emails. He was instantly drawn to the support groups. Now, once every month, for 90 minutes, Mike sits down with other caregivers to discuss their dementia journey. His wife also attends a support group for people in the early stages of dementia. 

Married for over 54 years, Mike and his wife share a passion for many things, including their children, the arts, nature, the outdoors and sports. Their passions flourished while in California, raising their family in San Francisco: Mike’s wife ran a pre-school education program and they regularly attended the San Francisco ballet. These passions continued and expanded after they moved to Vancouver. Mike has been involved with organizations like the Vancouver Opera and Music in the Morning. Their love of mountains turned them into avid hikers and backpackers in their younger years and they still love the city’s nature, the mountains, oceans, beaches and wildlife. 

A significant highlight for them is the time they spend in Zihuantanejo, Mexico every January. “We stay at the same beach and the same condo; we have friends there; we know the restaurant owners. It gives us a great winter social life, and we also have the opportunity to sponsor the college education of several local young people,” Mike says. 

Whether it’s going to Canucks and Whitecaps games, the opera or a ballet, travelling to Mexico and seeing their kids, Mike and his wife are focused on living in the moment. 

Mike’s advice for someone starting out on their caregiver journey? “I encourage caregivers to develop a sense of gratitude for the experiences they have with their partner. For me, it lightens my spirit, brings a smile to my face and makes the moments easier even when they’re challenging.”  

Learn more about the campaign 

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