I attended Dementia Australia’s Carer Support Groups during 2013-2014. I greatly benefited from meeting other carers and knowing I was not alone. Listening to their experiences helped me manage my wife's transition to residential care. Counselling sessions in 2013 also helped with strategies to overcome the pressures of caring for my wife at home, and ultimately managing my grief when my wife passed away in 2017.
In 2011, my beloved wife Olga was diagnosed with dementia. After coping with the realisation that there is no cure and that Olga would eventually lose her ability to speak, I managed alone as best I could. In 2012, a friend urged me to contact Dementia Australia. Making that phone call was significant - I found I wasn’t alone. Also, it opened the doors to the considerate professionals who deliver Dementia Australia’s extensive support services. Counselling services saved me from almost certain carer burn-out, while the carer support group helped me learn from other people’s experiences. The library service gave me valuable insight into dementia care and videos on communicating with a person with dementia.
By 2014, the broad effect of Dementia Australia’s support services helped me to cope with Olga’s move into residential care. Our sense of loss of ‘togetherness’ was profound. However, I was surprised to find Dementia Australia’s services had taught me how to renew our relationship by using non-verbal skills, meaningful activities and Olga’s love of music.
After 60 years of marriage Olga passed away in 2017, aged 86. Just as Dementia Australia’s people were there for me all those years before, they were also there for me during my period of grieving.
My hope is that all people living with dementia receive love, social involvement, meaningful activity, and empathetic care until the end of life. Meeting these needs enhances the quality of life for both the carer and their loved one.
I leaned on my Dementia Australia counsellor. Find out more here.