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Christine Mills - Vancouver Honouree
2019 IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer's
Every Saturday, Christine Mills would receive a single, long-stemmed red rose from her husband, Lyle. It was a romantic gesture he began while the two were dating, and one he went to great lengths to continue, even when Christine was away visiting her family in Alberta. If it was Saturday, a rose would arrive at the door.
Lyle was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia in 2005, and Lyle and Christine had an eight-year journey with the disease. As Lyle’s dementia progressed, Christine began reminding him when Saturday came. “He’d say, ‘Oh! We better stop and get a rose,’” she says. “Eventually, I’d say it’s Saturday today, and it meant nothing anymore.”
The heartbreak that Christine experienced with Lyle, as he went from being a fit and fun-loving romantic Irish man, to someone requiring full-time care, inspired her to become a volunteer with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. Christine began volunteering for the Society in 2013 and currently facilitates two caregiver support groups.
“I know that support groups would have helped me a lot. No matter how kind and supportive family and friends are, if they have not walked in your shoes they absolutely do not get it. That’s why I feel so strongly about support for the family caregivers.”
Christine’s message to other caregivers is simply to reach out and access the support groups and education through the Society, to connect with the people who know the guilt and grief that often come along with caring for a family member living with dementia.
“At this point there’s no cure,” Christine says. “There’s not a t-shirt that says ‘I survived Alzheimer’s,’ but there should be one for the caregivers, because they’re the ones who are survivors of this disease.”
Walk with Christine at the Vancouver IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer's on Sunday, May 5. Together, we make memories matter.