Awareness Month 2023: Katie

Meet one of the British Columbians sharing their stories as part of Alzheimer's Awareness Month this year.

Katie urges other people, of any age, to take any symptoms of cognitive changes seriously and push for support.

One in two British Columbians believe that a dementia diagnosis means the end of a meaningful life – but this isn’t the case at all. 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 despite the many challenges of the disease. We’re 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 Katie, a kind, caring, cheerful and generous mother of threeIn her thirties, Katie started struggling to express herself clearly and frequently forgot commitments. “I couldn’t juggle my calendar and started feeling that I was letting everyone down,” Katie says. “My kids kept saying ‘Mom, you forget everything!’ and I’d agree.” Katie began to hallucinate, and she was eventually referred to a neurologist at UBC who gave her the diagnosis: young onset Alzheimer’s disease. “He found markers and told me not to freak out,” she says. “But I already knew.” 

Katie knew the signs because both her mother and her cousin lived with young onset Alzheimer’s disease. She was barely out of high school when she became a care partner to her mother.

The diagnosis came with a sense of validation and relief after managing symptoms on her own. She quickly connected with the Alzheimer Society of B.C., attending a support group for people in the early stages of the disease. “I have good days and bad days and on the bad days I just remember to be kind to myself – go home, chill, do some positive self-talk,” Katie says. “Sometimes I just allow myself to feel the feeling instead of trying to push it away. Sometimes you just need to have a cry.” 

Alongside the challenges, there is a lot of love and gratitude in Katie’s life. 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 says. “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.” She also has the ongoing support of her best friend and care partner Cheryl, who has been with her at every step of the journey.

Katie urges other people, of any age, to take any symptoms of cognitive changes seriously and push for support. She also encourages everyone to take advantage of the opportunities that may arise in their lives: “If you have a chance to do something, go do it,” she adds. 

Learn more about the campaign 

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