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Everyone living with dementia has a story to tell…


Christmas is a time when families get together to share love and laughter. However for a person living with dementia and their family, without the right support, Christmas can be a lonely and stressful time of the year.

At Alzheimer’s WA our purpose is to improve the lived experience of those on the dementia journey through delivering holistic person-centred care and support to every person living with dementia in Western Australia.

There are over 41,100 Western Australians living with dementia.

Because of donations we have received we are able to continue providing the specialist support, advocacy and care that Western Australians living with dementia need every day.

To show you the true value of each and every donation, we are sharing with you the stories of five families living right here in Western Australia who have benefited from your past support.

Read about how donations have helped to improve the lives of Clare and Patrick, Laurie and Derene, and others on the dementia journey.

Because of people like you people like Clare and Patrick, and Laurie and Derene, are able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing they are receiving the best possible care and support for their loved ones living with dementia.

Please, donate today.

Derene and Laurie

Laurie and Derene live in Manjimup and are grateful for the changes brought about by the Dementia Friendly Communities project in their town. Laurie was diagnosed with Frontotemporal dementia five years ago and says the program has given him a new lease on life.

“People are coming to me, giving me support that I didn’t know was there before. It’s a disease that you’ve got and you just become a recluse, but not anymore.”

Laurie has been invited to join the volunteering program at the local community centre.

“Volunteering has helped Laurie to feel like he’s worthwhile,” said Laurie’s wife, Derene.

Moving back to Perth had been a consideration after Laurie’s diagnosis but now Derene says Manjimup is where they will stay.

“I’m being well supported now. I can’t believe the difference that small changes have made for Laurie’s independence. I know this is where Laurie gets the best care and support and I think the future looks really good. The program is going to help a lot of other families as well.”

Funding for our Dementia Friendly Communities project will soon end. We will continue this valuable work with your donations until new funding is established.

Because of you, Laurie no longer spends his days at home. He is able to volunteer within his community, giving him a sense of pride and purpose.

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Rae-Ellen and Barry

Rae-Ellen recently travelled overseas for the first time without husband Barry, who has dementia. This was Barry’s first time in long term respite care.

“I knew that I had made the right decision to place Barry at Mary Chester House as he always seemed settled and happy during our conversations when I was away. I was able to relax and enjoy my holiday, knowing that Barry was in familiar surroundings with familiar people.

“During his stay our daughter Caitlin mentioned that on every visit Barry was happy, affectionate and a lot more alert and able to initiate and carry on conversation in context. When compared to his usual state, the improvement was incredible.

“I am so grateful for the continued support, care and compassion provided by the amazing staff at Mary Chester House. As you know, being a full-time carer is a very tough, tiring and sometimes heartbreaking job. I couldn’t do this without knowing help is always at hand. I look forward to Barry being part of the Mary Chester family for many years to come.”

Funding from donations was used to refurbish Mary Chester House to create the bedrooms and facilities for overnight respite.

Because of you, Rae-Ellen was supported to relax and take a well-deserved break from her caring role, knowing Barry was receiving the best possible care.

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Marie and Alfie, Jackie and Andy

Andy and Alfie were both diagnosed with Younger Onset Dementia in 2016. Wives Jackie and Marie say a chance meeting at a support group led to the two men becoming firm friends, providing support to one another through their shared diagnosis.

“Andy and Alfie met 21 months ago at the men’s walking group run by Alzheimer’s WA. They have become best buddies and their lives are constantly intertwined. Having dementia is a very socially isolating experience for the person who has it and also for the loved ones caring for them.

“Andy and Alfie’s friendship has grown strong and we now meet once a week to share a meal, have a few laughs and a couple of drinks. Alfie recently told his specialist that he has a friend – Andy – and that they fill in each other’s gaps. The specialist was very impressed with their connection.

“To find a friend who totally understands what you are going through is exceptional and these two men have found that.”

Funding from supporters enables Alzheimer’s WA to pilot new support group models. Without donations, Andy and Alfie’s walking group may never have existed.

Because of you, Andy and Alfie have formed a lifelong friendship and continue to volunteer in the community as an inseparable team.

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Patrick and Clare Koo

Clare, Patrick and their three sons have been on a seven-year journey following Clare’s diagnosis of dementia in her early 50’s.

“At first I thought it was depression and blamed myself because I wasn’t paying her enough attention,” said Patrick.

Although Clare was an accomplished cook, her cooking abilities were gradually deteriorating, but she refused to see a doctor.

“This went on for about three or four years with me still thinking it was my fault. She gradually experienced trouble in communicating and would ‘shut down’ for prolonged spells. During such spells, I could not get her to eat. There was one occasion when she completely forgot where she had parked the car.

“We finally got to see the specialist and she was diagnosed with Younger Onset Dementia.

“It was a melancholic relief as I knew in my heart there was something wrong. She was still so young, so it never really occurred to me that it could be Alzheimer’s disease.

“My advice to anyone who has noticed changes in their partner is to seek medical advice with them as soon as you can, as it’s so important not to mistake dementia for depression.”

Support for carers on the dementia journey is essential. Funding changes mean that our Carer Support Groups will soon end, so we are working to create new programs that will support carers. This is only possible because of your donations.

Because of you, Patrick is able to access dementia-specific support groups, giving him an opportunity to meet other carers who understand what he and Clare are going through.

 

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