“I live with dementia…in Coquitlam. Let me help you understand.”
Canadians affected by dementia are going public for a third consecutive year in an effort to change hearts and minds. People living with the disease, their caregivers and family members are courageously stepping forward with their personal stories in the Alzheimer Society’s nation-wide campaign, I live with dementia. Let me help you understand as part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
“He was forgetting things more and more often,” says Linda Cheng of Coquitlam, whose husband Kelvin is living with Alzheimer’s disease. “That’s why we knew something might be wrong.” After a variety of tests, Kelvin eventually received a diagnosis in early 2018. Their family doctor recommended they connect with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. shortly thereafter. “If we hadn’t gone, I would be lost now,” Linda says.
A program assistant who worked at Vancouver Community College for 25 years, Kelvin retired three years ago but has stayed active and is committed to staying engaged even after his diagnosis. He plays badminton three times a week and is very open about having Alzheimer’s disease. “I’ve told everyone I play with,” Kelvin says. “They’ve all been so friendly when helping me with things.”
Linda and Kelvin feel lucky because whenever they talk about the diagnosis, people are very supportive, and often tell them about other people who have also been affected by it. It can make it easier for people living with dementia to stay active community members when people are familiar with the disease and open to talking about it. “I had to tell someone working at a hardware store, to explain why I was having difficulty with a question, and he was very helpful and said that it wasn’t the first time he’d helped someone with dementia,” Kelvin says.
“We want people to know they just have to be patient when they meet someone living with dementia,” Linda says. “Kelvin’s still the same person he was before. He just needs friendship and to be able to keep doing the things he enjoys.”
Want to learn more?
Read the stories of more B.C. individuals and families who are affected by dementia and help us change the conversation!