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Arvie Bourgeault - TriCities and Ridge Meadows Honouree
2019 IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer's
After a decade-long journey with dementia, Arvie Bourgeault has brought the experience of being a caregiver centre stage – quite literally.
Arvie cared for her husband Bob, who lived at home with Alzheimer’s disease. After his passing, Arvie sought new ways to support people living with dementia, including doing presentations for staff and residents at long-term care homes. Arvie and Myrna Norman, an advocate and person living with dementia, depict scenarios common among people living with dementia – and provide practical tips for how caregivers can respond.
“We look out into the audience and there are tears running down people’s faces,” Arvie says. “People are saying: ‘If I had only thought of that. If I had only said that.’”
Arvie insists she’s not an expert: just someone who has faced the challenges of dementia and found her way through with education and love. She contacted the Alzheimer Society of B.C. early on to access education and they kept Bob involved in the family activities he loved, including visiting with his four children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Bob was a shop teacher and two-term town councillor in Oliver who embraced life fully, whether exploring the wilds of Prince Rupert as a child or living in Germany with Arvie. His dementia went undiagnosed for too long, Arvie says, on account of his incredible charm. While interactions with doctors – especially before Bob had received his official diagnosis – were trying, the support of their community in Maple Ridge eased their journey.
Arvie now advocates for people affected by dementia through her roles with Dementia-Friendly Task Force, Seniors’ Network Table and the CEED Centre in Maple Ridge, where she attends a social group for people affected by dementia and encourages others to do the same. For Arvie, whether working with the municipality of Maple Ridge or on stage with Myrna, building dementia-friendly communities begins with educating them.
“Education is key,” she says.
Walk with Arvie at the TricCities and Ridge Meadows IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer's on Sunday, May 5. Together, we make memories matter.