Joggin' 4 Jan

"Although I was rather young when my Nan, Jan, started displaying symptoms and was diagnosed, I did notice her change in mood and confidence. She wasn’t moving as well as she used to and wasn’t engaging in conversations. I was confused at first, not knowing enough about Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. As I learnt more and saw my Nan change, I was sad but determined to help her and my family.

"I became determined to learn about Alzheimer’s disease and help my Nan by creating awareness."

Nan was a caring, quietly confident woman who could make everyone laugh with her witty comments and her intelligent nature. Her love for learning, teaching and music shone through her life as a teacher, mother and grandmother and I am sure my love for reading and being creative is all thanks to her. Rather than advice, but the love and passion she had for learning, of any kid, has stuck with me and I hope to now pass on my knowledge and passion to the children I teach and, hope to, inspire.

One of hardest things for me was watching my Nan’s personality and love of learning and life slowly go. As well as watching my Nan, the hardest thing for me was watching my mum, aunty and pop watch their mother and wife change and deteriorate. My pop, who still loves my Nan as if they only met yesterday, found it very difficult and just wanted her to be okay and comfortable, as we all did.

As sad as it was to see my family so hurt, the Memory Walk & Jog and the opportunities we had through Dementia Australia made my family determined to help other families and to help find a cure. It also pushed us to learn more and teach others, which would have made my nan proud.

Christmas was a time my Nan would decorate her house and fill it with love and spirit. This was a time she loved and would encourage the celebration of Jesus but mainly being together with her closest friends and family, reminiscing on the great times of the year. Even when my Nan was showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease and was diagnosed, my pop would decorate the house to how my Nan would always decorate it. Her love for music and hymns also shone, connecting to Christmas, even when my Nan was nonverbal, she would love to listen and hear her family sing to music such as ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Halleluiah’.

"Dementia Australia has helped my family become aware of the different ways we can help raise money and awareness about Dementia. It has given us another platform to share our story and to hear about and help others."

Our first Memory Walk and Jog was in 2013 and ever since then Joggin’ 4 Jan has participated or volunteered at countless Memory Walk and Jogs around NSW.

Our small family of around 11 will show their support by walking in the Sydney Memory Walk & Jog, volunteering at numerous events around NSW or spreading the word by fundraising or sharing on social media.

My mum first heard about the Memory Walk & Jog in 2013 when an ad popped up on Facebook. She rallied the family together and ever since then Joggin’ 4 Jan has attended, raised money and celebrated my Nan and the Memory Walk & Jog.

My Nan inspired me to take part in Memory Walk & Jog. She has inspired me to learn and educate people about Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. My mum, sister and pop have also inspired me to stay focused and they remind me every day why we do what we do and why it is so important to tell our story.

As well as advocating for my Nan and raising money and awareness for dementia, my family and I have created memories and supported each other which has been one of the most important things.

I encourage others to get involved. If nothing good can come out of seeing a family member or friend be affected by this make this the good thing. Help educate others, help educate yourself and meet people in the same or similar situation to you."

Virtual Memory Walk & Jog

"This year, obviously different, we are combining our Virtual Memory Walk & Jog with our, now postponed, overseas trip. Joggin’ 4 Jan has been celebrated in 5 different places/countries and will continue to walk around the world until we get back to Australia.

Setting a goal, with family and friends to keep you accountable, is the easiest and most effective way to stay active and healthy during this time. Using this time to spend time with your family, try new recipes and go for family walks or activities is so important for your physical and mental wellbeing.

In regards to Fundraising, I would say start with something small; get your name out there by advertising to your family and friends. Tell them why you’re doing it and start by asking for donations and creating awareness. As people become more familiar with your story and why you’re doing it, you can get more creative. Start by talking to your local community, schools and movie theatres, the ideas are endless!"- Rebecca