Awareness Month 2023: Ms. Wong

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, this is not the case at all.  We’ve discovered, that although the dementia journey is not an easy one, you can still live a full and meaningful life! 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. 

This year, we’ll be highlighting how 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 Ms. Wong, a caregiver in Richmond, B.C.  

"My father-in-law is a huge fan of television dramas and used to remember all the actors’ names," says Ms. Wong, a caregiver living in Richmond. "Now he gets mixed up with their names and faces." 

Ms. Wong’s family began to notice changes in her father-in-law over time. At one point, he went grocery shopping once but forgot where his car was parked and dropped both his wallet and car keys in the supermarket. His reaction was to wonder why he was there without his keys and wallet. He called his son for help. 

After this, the family sought out a geriatrician, who diagnosed Ms. Wong’s father-in-law with early-stage Alzheimer's disease. The diagnosis confirmed their suspicions. 

The family struggled to find the most effective way to communicate with him. While he insisted on cooking by himself, he forgot to turn off the stove one afternoon, which caused the family a lot of anxiety. 

When Ms. Wong was flipping through a magazine one day, an ad for the First LinkⓇ Dementia Helpline caught her attention.  She called the Helpline to learn more about the disease and seek help. Not only did the staff offer a listening ear, but they also provided tips and advice that gave her a different perspective when encountering caregiving challenges. In some situations, she became a mediator between family members by coming up with ways to respond, which has been incredibly helpful in keeping peace. With new ideas, she could turn around a bad day. "From the support calls, I was able to learn something that I'd never thought of," says Ms. Wong 

Aside from caring for her father-in-law, Ms. Wong also provides long-distance care for her own mother living with early-stage Alzheimer's disease and living in Hong Kong. Ms. Wong has been able to use the knowledge and tips she learned and share them with her siblings. Thanks to technology, video calls are conveniently used to communicate with her mother, as well as her sisters, who are providing care in person. Currently, Ms. Wong still receives regular telephone support calls from the Society. 

"I encourage caregivers to accept that someone in their life has been diagnosed with dementia, and that the disease is irreversible," says Ms. Wong. "Learn as much as you can about the disease to adapt to the changes that come with the disease. When there are things that my father-in-law doesn’t do well, I know it is related to the disease. I try not to get as frustrated or angry." 

Because dementia looks a little different for every person living with it, the road ahead is unpredictable. However, everyone still deserves support to live a meaningful life. Don't be afraid to take the initiative and seek help. Talk about the stress and challenges and share them with others – doing so helps challenge the stigma and educate people about the disease. 

Learn more about the campaign 

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