Caroline is a clinical trial participant at the Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. A former nurse who, during her career, used to take care of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
About 5 years ago Caroline knew she was having trouble with her memory
but was in denial. Whilst working at an immunisation clinic at PMH, a psychologist spoke to Caroline and gently advised her to look into what might be wrong.
One day her nephew came home from a trip and whilst visiting advised Caroline said that he thought something was not quite right with her. Caroline was once again angry but, persuaded by her brother, finally went for a brain scan.
The Alzheimer’s diagnosis was a bit of a relief but hard, she was still in her 50s. She felt inferior. She felt devalued by society. She said ‘people try to be helpful but talk down to me and make me feel stupid.’
‘Each day I am reminded of my condition when I lose things and I cannot remember to put them in their special place so I will remember!’ Here she laughs and her humour is infectious. She says her partner is a saint, patient and understanding and she could not be without him.
Her advice to those living with someone with Alzheimer’s is to be patient and accepting of the changed behaviour. ‘Don’t be critical – let them do what works best for them. Help when asked – but don’t be condescending.’
What frightens Caroline the most is the future – not knowing what is going to happen. Not knowing if her sons will develop Alzheimer’s. But she is grateful for having lots of supportive friends and she is thrilled at still being able to dance. Dancing brings Caroline great joy. ‘It is easy because the man leads and all I have to do is follow – and I love it! She says she eats well and take all the recommended supplements and is hopeful that one day the Foundation will come up with a solution.
She says that the Foundation has been most supportive of her and her partner.
They have been compassionate, attentive, understanding, given her time, explained things thoroughly, provided coping strategies and given her inspiration and hope.