A walk to raise funds and awareness for dementia is back in-person and this year’s event will honour a Chilliwack woman diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The annual IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s is taking place in about 20 communities across B.C. on Sunday, May 29, including here in Chilliwack to raise money for Alzheimer Society of B.C.
Each walk is dedicated to an honouree – an individual or group affected by dementia, or who has valuably contributed to the lives of people living with the disease – and this year the Chilliwack walk honours 44-year-old Katie Hogan.
She was just 42 when she was told she was living with young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the same disease that took her mother’s life at age 62.
Hogan became a caregiver to her mother when she was barely out of high school. She began recognizing early symptoms of the disease in herself in her 30s.
“It’s not just an old person’s disease,” Hogan said. “I think people are unaware that it also affects young people.”
The young mother of three started to struggle to express herself clearly and would forget commitments.
“I couldn’t juggle my calendar and I started feeling that I was letting everyone down,” she said. “My kids kept saying ‘Mom, you forget everything!’ and I’d agree.”
Immediately following her diagnosis, Hogan connected with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and now attends a support group for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Last year, she did her own fundraiser walk for the Alzheimer Society of B.C. along the Vedder River Rotary Trail where she raised more than $6,000.
She urges other people of any age to take any symptoms of cognitive changes seriously and push for support.
Like her mother, it was difficult for Hogan to get tested early on. She went through a lot of conversations with doctors before one began administering tests on her.
The younger someone gets Alzheimer’s, the faster it progresses, she said, adding it can affect people in their 20s.
Hogan said she has good days and bad days.
“On the bad days I just remember to be kind to myself – go home, chill, do some positive self-talk,” she said. “Sometimes I just allow myself to feel the feeling instead of trying to push it away. Sometimes you just need to have a cry.”
One major source of joy is her children: Keaton, 18, Emerson, 16, and 14-year-old Laine.
“It’s a cool time to watch them,” she said. “I love listening to them talk about how they see things or what’s happening in their lives. I love when they’re all together and laughing and telling stories. I soak them up when I can.”
Folks can join Hogan and help raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of B.C. by taking part in the Walk for Alzheimer’s or simply by donating.
In Chilliwack, the event takes place at the Landing Sports Centre (45530 Spadina Ave.) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 29. For more info, to register, or to donate, go to alzbc.org/walk.