Dementia advocate awarded highest honour

Tireless dementia advocate Christine Bryden AM has joined the honour roll being named a Member of the Order of Australia over the Queen’s Birthday long-weekend in June.

Christine Bryden Christine received an award in the general division for "significant service to community health through support for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and as a leading advocate and author."

Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at 46, Christine was a senior government science advisor. She was told to leave her job immediately and that her prognosis was five years.

More than 20 years on, Christine has been defying those medical practitioners who initially gave her the grim outlook and while the disease is progressing, Christine has been keeping busy writing numerous books on the subject, attending speaking engagements, advocating for change and living as well as she can.

In 2001, Christine presented at the Dementia Australia National Conference. She was the first person with dementia to present at a conference in Australia and followed this up with a key note address at the Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International at Christchurch, New Zealand in 2002. In 2003 she was the first person with dementia to be elected to the international ADI board.

Christine was instrumental in setting up one of the first support groups for people with dementia and driving the agenda of that group. She was adamant that people with dementia be given a voice and the opportunity to discuss the things that mattered to them the most. 

Issues such as end-of-life planning and current life challenges were on the agenda for discussion and Christine was the driving force behind this.

Christine said it was a lonely journey advocating 20 years ago, but there were now so many outstanding advocates across the globe.

“On behalf of Dementia Australia we would like to congratulate Christine and thank her for her tireless efforts in sharing her experience with Alzheimer's disease to help others and improve public understanding, perception and awareness,” Dementia Australia National CEO Carol Bennett said.

“The work she has done and continues to do, in not only advocating but reviewing and informing research will have a lasting impact on dementia care and treatment.”