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Dementia Advocates give a voice to people living with dementia and their carers. If you
would like to be a Dementia Advocate, contact Jo-Ann Brown or visit the Alzheimer's
Australia website. T: (02) 8875 4636 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
ROBYN AND HER HUSBAND, PETER, DECIDED
TO MAKE THE MOST OF THEIR TIME TOGETHER
AFTER HE RECEIVED A DEMENTIA DIAGNOSIS.
When my husband was diagnosed with
dementia, it was a wake-up call to make
the most of the life we have left, to be
thankful for companionship while it is
there and to walk a little more slowly in
this different pace of life.
In Peter's working life he loved people
and people loved him. He cared, he
noticed things and faced projects with
enthusiasm. He managed a busy work
life as a parish priest, interviewing people
late into the night, visiting the bereaved,
marrying the young, and being there in
sorrow and joy.
As you can imagine, getting a
dementia diagnosis was not one of
our delights! However, life should be
grasped and lived according to our
abilities, so for the past six years we
have tried to do that with as much
energy as we can muster. Keeping ft,
joining in and working at varied activities
has been the goal each day in order to
stimulate Peter and keep him from the
loneliness that dementia can bring.
We have been able to get to tai chi
classes each week. Our instructor,
Rosalie, is most careful, and we in
the class follow her scrupulously.
Thankfully we all make mistakes, so
even if one person is well behind or
slightly in front (which is rare) it doesn't
matter -- we are all moving and united
in the whole fun of it.
As Dementia Advocates, we were
invited to address a group of fnal-year
law students. To my delight, Peter
became young again. I heard his 'old'
voice, his old confdence, his energy and
imagination as he spoke to the group in
his opening words.
Peter is also in a reading group, as
reading has been a well-loved pastime
all his life. Peter and I have also joined
drawing and painting classes with
U3A. I have found that there is a great
gentleness among our fellow students.
Everyone is accepted. Though Peter's
ability is not as strong as it was, I have
been more than humbled to hear and
see the unsolicited care that spills out in
offers of transport, simple conversation
and encouragement for
the task in hand.
We are in a choir, and
we enjoy spending time
with our grandchildren.
Our normal social
and travelling life has
changed. The campervan
has gone, the trips
overseas are re-visited
with our old photos and
our friends' tales. We
have downsized. Our life
has changed of course,
but the day is not done
just yet. In the future our life will change
more; but for today, as far as possible,
we choose life, gratitude and love -- and
with the teaspoon of laughter that even
dementia occasionally allows.
"FOR TODAY, AS
FAR AS POSSIBLE,
WE CHOOSE LIFE,
GRATITUDE AND LOVE.
Q Why did you become a
I became a Dementia Advocate
several years ago while I was
caring for my husband, Merv.
It was new to me and seemed
rather daunting. However, I knew
I could about this terminal illness
so that Merv and I could have
as much quality time with each
other as possible. I had been
attending our local Carer's Group
and through that I was invited to
become a Dementia Advocate. It
also allows me to inform others
of the work that is being done by
Q What is something all
carers should hear?
Be kind to yourself. It is up to
us to avail ourselves of local
dementia Carer's Groups. It is a
long, hard journey, and it is good
to share it with others. We are
Q What would you say to
someone who is
thinking of becoming a
It really does make a difference to
be a Dementia Advocate, to tell
our stories and to stay up-to-date
with the material that comes from
Alzheimer's Australia. Even when
our journey ends as a carer, we
still have a great deal of valuable
input in helping others.
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