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“This is my family’s fourth year of taking part in the Illawarra Memory Walk & Jog.
My Mum, Martine, was showing signs of Younger Onset Alzheimer's when she was only 55 years old.
She had the doctors baffled a bit as they thought the symptoms she was experiencing were because of menopause and the medication she was taking. I think it’s probably because they weren’t expecting to diagnose someone so young with dementia. It wasn’t until my Dad took her to see a Professor in Brisbane and after extensive testing and scans they were able to diagnose her at the age of 56.
Quite early in the piece we had no idea about the disease and how to care for her. We got lots of information from Dementia Australia. My Dad, Brian, was only 59 when Mum was diagnosed so he had to retire early to care for her full-time. Mum trialled different medicines and had numerous side effects.
My parents moved back to Sydney so we as a family could all help care for Mum and we built a granny flat at the back of our house. My wife got advice from Dementia Australia on how to make the flat dementia-friendly, building wider doors for a wheelchair, ramps instead of stairs and painting it in dementia-friendly colours with signs to make it easier for Mum to stay at home. But she deteriorated quite quickly so she was only there for 8 months before she moved into a home.
She is now in a very good home just two minutes away from us. She is non-verbal and has no memory at all.
I fundraise via LinkedIn with my professional network and via Facebook with family friends. I’ve been in my industry for 14 years and a lot of my customers that I have had that long are like family to me, so they support me.
It’s a big thing for our family to take part in Memory Walk & Jog and make a difference for someone else with dementia. It’s now too late for our Mum but we hope that by fundraising we can make it easier for others."
“I’m walking again this year with my wife Fiona, our two kids Caleb and Jack, and my Dad, Brian. My Mum took part two years ago when she could still walk and this photo is from that day.”
Sponsor Bruce and Team Lawson
If you or anyone you know needs assistance with coping with dementia, or if these stories cause any distress, please call our National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
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