At age 81, Jim Boileau still holds fond memories of his 42-plus years of service as a Port Coquitlam firefighter.
But, admittedly, those recollections are becoming fewer and fewer as dementia slowly steals away this Maple Ridge man's memory.
Recognizing the struggles that Boileau and his wife Dolly, as well as some 70,000 other B.C. residents living with this disease face on a daily basis, the Alzheimer's Society of BC is holding its annual Walk for Memories at Rocky Point Park in Port Moody.
And this year's walk is being dedicated to Boileau.
He was diagnosed back in 2006, when he began forgetting the names of fellow firefighters and struggling with directions in a community he'd know inside and out for decades.
"He knew, himself, something was wrong," and quickly took himself to the doctors," explained Dolly, his wife of 59 years.
"It started slowly. But in the last year, it's gotten worse," she told The TIMES.
While he had a heart bypass in 1997, and surgery a few years later to remove a tumour from his tail bone, Dolly explained that her husband remains in relatively good physical health to this day.
They walk regularly, and get out and about for chores and visiting almost daily. But those outings are now restricted primarily to afternoons and early evenings, when his cognitive powers seem stronger, Dolly said.
She's also noted in recent months that her husband has cut out going for lunch and playing pool in PoCo with friends - something he once did twice a week.
Instead, he's more content now to be at home, often watching sports on television.
That said, Dolly believes Jim is going to be able to live at home, with her continuing to function as his primary caregiver, for some time to come.
While offered respite, she hasn't taken anyone up on that offer yet. But admittedly, she said, being there all the time and trying to constantly be attentive to his needs and location could become more draining as his condition worsens. She said she may eventually need some help.
While the couple participates in a support group with the Alzheimer's society and have called on them over the years for information and assistance, this will be the first time they participate in the Walk for Memories.
In fact, they've formed Team Jim, which will include Jim and Dolly, as well as their two daughters, three grandsons, one granddaughter, two great-granddaughters, and numerous other relatives and friends.
In addition to Boileau, there are other family members - Jim's older sister, Dolly's younger brother, and their daughter's mother-in-law - who have all been stricken by dementia.
The disease, Dolly said, has obviously struck very close to home for them.
The regional Walk for Memories, just one of 23 held around the province this weekend, includes a one-and six-kilometre walk along the Shoreline Trail in Port Moody starting at 1 p.m.
People can register in advance at www.walkformemories.com.
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