How would you feel if you were unable to share your life stories with your grandkids?
We all know how precious the bond is between grandparents and grandchildren. These are special relationships filled with love and affection.
Dementia, which is now the leading cause of death for women in Australia, doesn’t just affect the person who’s been diagnosed. It reaches through the generations to impact sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters too.
Anton, who is 13-years old, enjoys spending time after school playing video games and basketball.
But, two afternoons each week, he goes to a place where few 13-year-olds hang out. He goes straight from school to a residential care centre to spend time with Ilonka – his beloved grandmother.
Ilonka, who turns 89 this year, was diagnosed with dementia in 2015.
Ilonka was always an active woman, who did lots of walking. She and Anton, the youngest of her five grandchildren, loved to walk along the beach together feeding the seagulls.
Dementia has taken away her ability to go for long walks with Anton and she is now permanently in high-level care.
In the past, she would entertain Anton and her four other grandchildren with reminiscences from her life. Unfortunately she can no longer tell her stories.
Realising that his grandmother could no longer share any of her stories was difficult for Anton and his family.
“It really hit me last year when I was doing a school project about me and my family,” Anton says.
“Everyone else was interviewing their grandparents but I couldn’t because she wasn’t able to answer the questions. I realised that she couldn’t tell me her stories anymore and that she’ll never be able to tell them to me. That was hard to cope with.”
With your big-hearted support, Dementia Australia is there to help the thousands of families and grandkids like Anton who no longer hear the stories of their loved one.
Now, when Anton visits his grandmother, he tries to continue their tradition of going for walks as much as he can.
“Sometimes she might forget my name or forget that it’s me with her,” Anton explains.
“Some days I just hold her hand and put my arm around her.”
Your support has meant that Dementia Australia has been able to provide valuable information and resources that have been a source of comfort to Anton and his family.
“It’s been reassuring to know that some of the things we’re going through, even though they’re distressing, they’re normal,” Anton’s mum says. “Understanding that has been really helpful.”
Though there is currently no cure for dementia, Anton urges everyone to do their part to help find one.
“It’s a tough thing to go through. It’s worth it to donate a bit of money so that we can eventually find the cure. One day everyone will be free of dementia and no one will need to worry.” Anton says.
You can help make a difference. While the search for a cure continues, please help us support individuals and families affected by dementia by giving your gift today.