Peter Gook, a self-reliant, ex-military man, who loves his work life, travelled the world pre-pandemic with his wife Susan Martin and regularly runs 10k races, struggled to accept his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
“I was absolutely shocked,” says Peter, who first accused his doctor of lying to him. “You have this idea of what someone with Alzheimer’s is like and when it happens to you it’s totally different.”
That idea that so many people have of what someone living with dementia is like – that a person is no longer capable of doing all the things they did before they developed the disease – is what motivated Peter and Susan to drive all the way to Vernon to access Alzheimer Society of B.C. resources, rather than connect with the Society’s resources in Salmon Arm. Peter and his wife Susan are now ready to bring more visibility to dementia, to motivate people who may be struggling with their diagnosis to reach out for support and to know that they’re not alone in their community.
One way they are doing this is by sharing their story as honourees for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s this May. The online event is the largest fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of B.C., and, this year, participants are encouraged to walk their own way throughout May before joining together for an online celebration at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 30, streamed on the Alzheimer Society of B.C. Facebook page.
The event raises funds for Alzheimer Society of B.C. programs and services such as Minds in Motion® which is now available online, as well as support groups. For Peter, attending groups such as these is important – but not easy when it comes to watching the progression of the disease and the death of other group members. Why some people go so quickly, he says, while others keep fighting through the disease is something he grapples with.
“Sometimes it’s still hard for me to realize that I have Alzheimer’s,” he says. “I would like it to go away, but it’s not going to. I have to live with it.”
To register for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s, participants can visit walkforalzheimers.ca, choose their local community and create a fundraising page to share with friends and family. No matter where or when they walk (in accordance with current public health orders), participants will make a difference in the lives of people living with dementia and their caregivers.
If you are affected by dementia, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can help. Visit www.alzheimerbc.org to learn more.