Imagine if you thought your child moved interstate and no one bothered to tell you.

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$100 - Alix driving everyone around town

That’s what Kris from Newcastle thinks, even though every day her daughter Alix patiently reminds her why she’s moved to Perth.

As Kris’ memory worsens, her family struggles to ease her distress and confusion. Dementia is just so challenging: they can’t do this alone.

When Alix was 14, she noticed her Mum, Kris, aged 35, starting to do “weird stuff”. She would forget how to use the washing machine and drop Alix at the wrong school. Her worried family urged Kris to see her GP, who organised some tests.

“Soon after, Mum and Nan sat me down. Mum was crying so much she couldn’t speak. Nan had to tell me: ‘Your Mum has dementia’. I thought: ‘That’s an old person’s disease… this can’t be right’.”

Mum and Bambi

Now 50, Kris has been living with dementia since her youngest child was six. She can’t remember life before dementia.

Recently, they’ve noticed a steep decline in Kris’ emotional health. She has rage outbursts, accusing family members of stealing from her or keeping secrets. Her family feel helpless to calm her. The uncertainty is hard to take – wondering what changes will be next.

I was offered my dream job as a researcher in Perth. I agonised for months over whether to take it. I feel huge worry, guilt and shame about leaving Mum. I don’t know how long she has left.

- Alix, Kris’ daughter

 

Via FaceTime chats from Perth, Alix loves to hear that Kris is still going for her daily swim and coffee dates with her brother Brock. She reminds Kris that Easter is coming, where their family tradition is to give pyjamas instead of Easter eggs.

Counselling for Kris and her family, support groups , short courses  and a Dementia Support Worker  to help them navigate this tough journey, are just some of the ways your support helps them handle dementia.

“I don’t want to think about where we would be without Dementia Australia,” says Alix. “They’ve taken the stress away. Without them, there’s no way I could have taken my dream job in Perth.

“And as researcher myself, I can’t stress how vital their research is. There is a huge goal to stop dementia happening, but we also need to find new ways to help families cope day-to-day.”