Erena’s story

Erena's story: “When mum was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in late November 2006, she was 59 years old. Her own mother had suffered from the same condition and I’ve often wondered about its heredity. A former solicitor and barrister, mum was a voracious reader and a formidable opponent in any argument. The diagnosis was a tragedy for someone with so much spirit and wit.

Mum had had a brain tumor removed 2 years earlier and during her recovery some of the symptoms such as forgetfulness, confusion and anger that had led to her tumor diagnosis were returning. After plenty of tests and scans, mum was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.  Whilst our family was devastated, it was as if the disease was happening to someone else. Strangely, Mum was completely detached from the diagnosis and she simply wasn’t interested in the fact she had Alzheimer’s disease.

For a few years, mum went on with her life as if there was nothing wrong, she had a busy social life and spent plenty of time with her friends and family.

In the early stages of her disease, many people did not know about her diagnosis and the progression of the disease meant she didn’t realise what she couldn’t do. Gradually though, as her symptoms became more pronounced, she became less and less independent. Finally, she was no longer was able to drive or read, and her forgetfulness and confusion became overwhelming. Slowly, as her abilities lessened her life became considerably quieter and she spent her time with dad at home on our family vineyard where she needed constant care.

Last year, nearly 7 years after her initial diagnosis, her condition deteriorated to the point that dad was no longer able to care for her at home and she was moved into an aged care home in nearby Ocean Grove. There, she is relaxed and happy and cared for by experts who manage her condition beautifully.

Soon after her diagnosis, mum agreed to take part in medical research trials. Whilst they were often invasive and time consuming, it is our hope that some of the research she was part of will one day enable scientists to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.”