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Natalie – West Hobart, TAS

My mum, Camille, was diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 60.  When my father passed away suddenly in January 2010 life was turned upside down.  Although we knew she was slowly losing mental & physical capabilities the reality of it all hit when she come to live with my husband & I & our then 6yr old son.  She was incapable of caring for herself, at times she struggled to find her way around the couch to leave the lounge room.  Looking back I can see a slow but steady demise that gradually took over from the time my first son was born in January 2004.  If you look at photos you can physically see the expression and life fade from their faces.

To say the search for aged care was overwhelming is an understatement.  As I was only in my early thirties & am only child I had no-one around me that could really empathise.  I still remember the first night mum went into respite.  She looked terrified.  I remember calling her before she went to bed & she couldn’t hold back her tears.  It broke my heart.  Mum was moved between two respite centres until we finally found a permanent room about 4mths later.  For a woman who had lived in the same house for over 30yrs this was very distressing & seemed to contribute to a demise in her condition.  We lost mum last September.  The last 18months of her life were so sad I don’t think there was a day when she didn’t cry.  I found myself waiting for her to move into the state where she was blissfully unaware of her condition but it never came.  Although she didn’t understand what was happening to her she knew she wasn’t the mother & grandmother she wanted to be.

This campaign is so important not just for residents of aged care but their families.  I rushed in to so many big decisions with very limited knowledge of services or options available to me.  I believe a Gateway is crucial for families.  A one stop shop so to speak where families & individuals are given all the information and support they need to make important decisions in regard to the care of their loved one.

Rest Peacefully Mum, I hope this story helps xxx

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