Throughout his career and after retiring, Peter had spent much of his life out on the sea – a passion that Geri and Peter shared.

Throughout his career and after retiring, Peter had spent much of his life out on the sea – a passion that Geri and Peter shared.

Changing the future for people affected by dementia

After caring for her husband, she became a tireless advocate for others affected by the disease

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a time for reflection and setting goals for the future. With people affected by dementia facing more social isolation than ever, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is bringing the community together to ask what we want the future to look like for people living with dementia, for caregivers – and ultimately for everyone.

Throughout January, people across the province are sharing their experiences and hopes for the future: people like Geri Hinton of Victoria, who has tirelessly advocated for a better future for everyone affected by the disease because of her own experience caring for her husband Peter.

A naval officer who first enlisted in 1940 – going on to be one of the youngest Canadians to command a landing craft on D-Day – Peter lived on the water whether he was working or not. And it was on the water that he and Geri realized he had a serious problem.

“We were in the middle of the ocean and I could hear him banging around in the cabin,” Geri says. “He couldn’t find a piece of equipment that was right in front of me. That’s when I knew something was wrong.” It wasn’t the first indication of a problem, but it was the biggest, and it was still a shock.

Geri connected with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. where Peter joined a support group for people in the early stages of dementia and Geri built a support group of her own with other spouses.

Initially, Geri continued to work, leaving Peter lunch every day. Until one day, she came home and realized he was forgetting to eat. She retired shortly after, intent on keeping him at home for as long as possible.

Peter was able to remain at home for five more years, until a fall resulted in the need for him to move into a care home. This transition proved to be one of the most difficult parts of the journey, but Geri made it her mission to remain a constant support for Peter. She visited the care home every day, and in the process, became familiar with the other residents and learned from their experiences as well.

Since Peter’s death in 2008, Geri has become a fierce advocate for people on the dementia journey. Her experience with Peter has highlighted the importance of people living with the disease having compassionate, appropriate care. She is acutely aware of the challenges facing people currently caring for someone living with dementia in long-term care, many who are isolated because they aren’t able to get essential visitor status. “I don’t know what we would have done – not being able to see each other – if Peter was in care now,” Geri says.

Take action and change the future

As part of the awareness campaign, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is hosting a free webinar on advocacy and long-term care, “Raise your voice: Dementia, long-term care and COVID-19,” at 2 p.m. on January 27. Experts and people with lived experience will discuss the challenges of balancing public health concerns with ensuring that families can support people living in long-term care to help them stay active and engaged.

To register for the webinar, learn more about the experiences of British Columbians affected by dementia and help change the conversation – and the future – for families on the journey, visit alzbc.org/future.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. can help

If you have questions or concerns about dementia or someone living with dementia in your care, call the First Link® Dementia Helpline. The helpline offers free, confidential support which is available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. in English (1-800-936-6033) and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007) and Punjabi (1-833-674-5003).

Helpline staff and volunteers provide free, confidential information for people living with dementia, care partners, health-care providers and the general public.

Helpline staff and volunteers provide free, confidential information for people living with dementia, care partners, health-care providers and the general public.

Alzheimer's diseaseHealth and wellnessSeniors

Just Posted

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after cancellations on Friday due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich police seek suspect after woman nearly robbed while getting out of vehicle

Incident occurred before 7 a.m. Feb. 17 in parking lot off Cordova Bay Road

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Gabriel Swift, 23, is one of three Victoria filmmakers chosen to receive $20,000 Telus Storyhive grants to produce Local Heroes documentaries. (Courtesy of Gabriel Swift)
Three Victoria filmmakers producing ‘local heroes’ documentaries with $20,000 grants

Telus Storyhive providing $20,000 to 40 Western Canada productions

Goldstream Food Bank president Gayle Ireland is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Community Volunteer of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Two-week stint at Goldstream Food Bank turns into 35 years of volunteer service

Goldstream Food Bank’s Gayle Ireland is the 2021 Community Volunteer of the Year

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read