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To mark Pride Month (June) we are sharing the stories of Dementia Advocates who identify as LGBTI and work to improve the lives of all people impacted by dementia. Today, we’re sharing the story of Jenni and Tracy.
Jenni is the newest member of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee which provides a national platform for people living with dementia to advocate alongside Dementia Australia on matters important to them.
Jenni worked as a nurse for many years, particularly in the field of mental health and she says this experience has prepared her for her new role as a member of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee.
“My knowledge in the field of mental health combined with my lived experience of dementia enables me to be a strong advocate for people with dementia,” Jenni said.
Jenni and Tracy met in 2019 and currently live in Townsville. On their first date, Jenni shared with Tracy that she had very recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
“My heart sank. This amazingly bright, articulate, creative, and witty woman had been dealt the wrong card, and it wasn’t fair,” Tracy said.
The pair continued to spend time together and their relationship grew.
“I didn’t think I could ever have a relationship again given my diagnosis and stage in life,” Jenni said.
In mid-2020 at the age of 58, Jenni received confirmation that she had younger onset Lewy body dementia. Despite this new diagnosis, in May this year, Tracy proposed and the two became engaged.
“Tracy is my everything. She is my sun and my moon, my smile, my laugh, and she makes my day, every day. Tracy and I fell in love late in life, since my diagnosis. She still sees me as me, which is so important to me,” Jenni said.
At this time, Jenni also reached out for support.
“When I received my diagnosis I involved myself with learning as much as I could about dementia,” Jenni said.
“Dementia Australia has been such a support to me and my family.”
Tracy has also been a great support to Jenni and has taken the time to learn all about dementia.
“She attends meetings with me and helps when things become overwhelming for me,” Jenni said.
Tracy said she always feels welcome when attending support groups with Jenni.
“I sometimes join Jenni at dementia support group activities, as well as other support group gatherings and we socialise together often. Within these groups we have not received any discrimination relating to our being LGBTIQ folk. The support groups have impressed me with how welcome they are,” Tracy said.
“Even with dementia Jenni has been able to actively participate in groups and is an eloquent and steadfast advocate for others living with dementia.” Our thanks to Jenni and Tracy for sharing their story.
Dementia Australia supports all people of all ages living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers. If you need any support or advice at this time, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500, Monday to Friday from 8am-8pm, excluding public holidays. Or visit our website www.dementia.org.au