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Alzheimer’s Walk for Memories honours local resident

Patrick (back), Susan and Michael Tham. -
Patrick (back), Susan and Michael Tham.
— image credit:

Patrick Tham can’t imagine where his family would be if it wasn’t for the help from the people at Alzheimer Society of B.C. and the programs they offer.

“Where would the Tham family be...? In a word, LOST,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Tham’s father Michael is the honouree of the first annual Richmond Walk for Memories, which will be hosted this Sunday, Jan. 27, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the BCIT Aerospace Technology Centre, 3800 Cessna Dr., in Richmond. Registration is at 9 a.m.

It was three years ago that Tham’s family received the news that Michael—originally from Singapore before moving to Richmond three decades ago—had early-stage Alzheimer’s.

The Thams suspect he has had it for much longer, but following his diagnosis, Michae has undergone three memory tests, and his scores have remained stable.

“We understand there is no cure so a stable score is good news,” Patrick said.

Patrick ‘s father was once active, energetic and social. Today, he’s much more quiet and he tires easily.

“He doesn’t seem to want to do much. Except for one thing. When he’s at Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Mind in Motion program, he smiles and laughs (along with Mum) a lot more than at home.”

Seeking support following Michael’s diagnosis, the Thams reached out to the Alzheimer Society, and were among the first to participate in the First Link and Minds in Motion programs.

While the programs have been great, so are the people who provide them and the families they’ve gotten to know who are facing something similar.

“Whether it’s tossing and passing balls during fitness hour, or playing Jenga during social hour, my Dad and Mum are transformed by this simple yet effective god-send of a program,” he said.

First Link is an early intervention program offered by the Alzheimer Society of B.C. which is designed to link individuals and families affected by the disease with services and support as soon as possible after their diagnosis.

“But Minds in Motion is just one of the many ways First Link has helped our family,” Patrick said. “It has connected us to amazing (society) staff members like Kate, Anthony, Michele to name just a few and also to education programs and support groups.  Along the way, Mum (who doesn’t drive) has learned to use the Handydart service and developed a supportive and social network with a couple of ladies who are going through the same experiences as she is right now. Through First Link, we also met our wonderful Nurse/Case Manager who explained what services are available to support both my Dad and Mum.”

Patrick believes all families in B.C. affected by Alzheimer’s should have access to First Link.

“I appreciate resources are limited during these trying economic times. But (the society) has been able to show we actually save money by helping families support their loved ones at home for as long as possible,” he said.

Patrick is hoping locals will help out the 70,000 people battling Alzheimer’s during January’s Alzheimer Awareness month by taking part in the walk.

For more information or to register, visit www.walkformemories.com, or call 604-270-7700 (ext. 241).

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