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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Walking in memory of mum lost to dementia

Dementia Australia’s Memory Walk & Jog returns to Canberra for the first time since 2017 and for Jonathon Gardner, this year’s event takes on extra meaning.

Jonathon’s mother was diagnosed with younger onset dementia at age 59 and passed away on 12 January, seven years after her diagnosis.

Originally from Sydney, Jonathon came to Canberra at the start of 2015 to attend medical school at ANU. “At that stage, she [Mum] was verbal and knew who I was. It was difficult to leave,” he said.

Watching his mother live with the dementia, Jonathon said she was “healthy, fit and able but she lost piece by piece other things she was able to do”.

As a way to show his support, Jonathon participated in the Memory Walk & Jog in 2016 and 2017, describing it as an opportunity to “feel like I was doing something useful and productive when it is very much a condition where you feel useless and not able to make much of a difference”.

He is keen to continue his involvement with the event to raise funds for research as well as awareness.

According to Dementia Australia, in 2018 an estimated 5,500 people were living with dementia in the ACT. Without a medical breakthrough, this number is expected to increase to around 18,500 people by 2058.

“At the moment it is very much staving off dementia rather than treating it,” Jonathon said. “Unfortunately, once you have a diagnosis, quite often there’s limited treatments available and it is more about managing symptoms, your lifestyle and helping the family … but it certainly needs a breakthrough and needs a treatment.”

The Memory Walk & Jog raises funds towards the work of Dementia Australia, which provides support, education and resources for people living with dementia in Australia, their carers, families and friends.

The Canberra event will kick-start the 2019 Memory Walk & Jog season, returning to the ACT for the first time since 2017. It will be held at Lake Burley Griffin on Sunday 24 February 7-11am and participants can choose from a 2km, 5km or 10km walk, jog or run.

All funds raised from the event will benefit Dementia Australia services in the ACT.

Donate or register at memorywalk.com.au

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