A 43-year-old Chilliwack woman who was recently diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s is spreading awareness about the disease which does not only affect seniors.
In January, Katie Hogan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the same disease that took her mother’s life at age 62 and is also currently affecting her 50-year-old cousin.
“It’s not just an old person’s disease,” Hogan said. “I think people are unaware that it also affects young people.”
She said her mother began showing signs in her late 40s.
“But at that time, no doctor was willing to go down that road. My dad had to fight really hard to get her help,” Hogan recalled.
Because her mother had early-onset Alzheimer’s, Hogan said the thought of herself also being diagnosed with the disease was “always in the back of my mind.”
And then about three years ago, she started noticing changes in herself – they were the same symptoms her mother had. Like her mother, it was also 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 you get Alzheimer’s, the faster it progresses, she said, adding it can affect people in their 20s.
Now she’s raising awareness and funds while taking part in the Walk for Alzheimer’s.
On Saturday (May 29), two of her three children along with a handful of other family and friends joined Hogan for the virtual walk, a fundraiser that she raised more than $6,000 for. The group took to the Vedder Rotary Trail where they did the five-kilometre walk together.
Additionally, Hogan and her family (including her three teenaged children) are taking part in a study to better understand how genetics plays a role in early-onset Alzheimer’s.
“I have teenaged kids and I would hope that they don’t have to go through this,” she said.