Marie-Claire's Story

Ballarat Memory Walk & Jog

“When I first heard of Mum’s diagnosis I was upset and scared of the unknown. It was something that we knew was happening; my Granny had dementia, so in the back of my mind I knew the signs were there. Mum was repeating herself. Mum is a nurse (RN) and it was a very difficult diagnosis for her to come to terms with.

Over a period of time, Mum was suffering from psychosis, forgetfulness, paranoia and getting very confused.  There was an incident one day when Dad came home to find she had turned the gas on.

Mum’s mother (Granny) was the matriarchic of the family, her and her two sisters were very close.  When Granny died of dementia, we felt like a piece of Mum died too. She withdrew a lot from social activities, even though she had loved being part of social clubs (motor and car clubs).

Mum has always tried to make sure we are good people, be good, and be kind. Take care of number one! Mum has taught us that what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. Our family really had to come together and try and learn about the disease, the impact it was going to have and to really try to move forward.

We have days where Mum is fantastic, and other days when we can’t get her in the shower and everyone around her is a ‘nasty’ person. We have had to learn to take the good with the bad.

I have been to many Memory Walk & Jogs in Geelong, Melbourne and now Ballarat. I love the atmosphere! It’s lovely, it’s heart-warming, it’s emotional – it’s a great day to be part of.

For everyone who has had a family member living with dementia, it’s a hard day too. You see who everyone is walking for and hear their stories, it’s hard. But it makes you appreciate that you are not the only ones going through this awful disease, there is a real sense of comradery you get by participating.

I encourage anyone thinking of taking part in a Memory Walk & Jog to do it – it’s such a great cause! There is no pressure – everyone who participates is there for their own reasons, because they have a connection or they know someone with dementia.

Fundraising can be daunting but I encourage everyone to get involved and help raise much needed funds. I found that Facebook was very useful – I had to be careful because my mum is such a private person, but I wanted to put as much of Mum’s story on Facebook as possible (while still being respectful) and share my link. Show people I was out there training, and working!

I did a number of bake sales at work which went down super well. I made everything myself, made a sign that explained why I was raising funds, and left it up to my colleagues how much they donated.

Memory Walk & Jog is a wonderful event and I encourage all to participate and get involved to help make a difference.”