This article is sponsored by Dementia
It was 2007 and AngelaPellegrino-Lavalle knew something wasn’t right.
It began with a seemingly innocuous observation;her father Mauro, the patriarch of her close-knit family, began forgetting where he had put things moments before. Then he began retelling the same stories over and over, unaware that he wasrepeating himself to hisfamily.
Shockwaves permeated through Angela’s family after her father was diagnosed with dementia.
“My mum, with the help of my brother and I, looked after dad for sixyears at home before his condition deteriorated and in 2013 he was placed into a dementia-specific facility,” she remembers.
Grief-stricken at her father’s deterioratingcondition, Angela was also faced with the the difficult conversation she needed to have with her young children.She struggled to find the resources and support that wouldhelp their young minds understandwhat was happening to their grandfather.
Angeladecided to publish a picture book, entitled I’ll Remember for you Grandad, which opened the up conversation to youngchildrenabout dementia.
“The contents of the book reflects my real life experience with the story following a boy who notices changes in the behaviour of his grandfather, prompting the mother to explain dementia in simple terms,” she says.
Sadly, Mauro Pellegrinolost his battle with dementia in March 2017. He was 86.
Angela has been participating in the Memory Walk & Jog since 2013, a charity walk which raises much-needed funds for dementia with walks in 10 locations acrossNSW, Victoria, South andQueensland, in cities such as Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong, the Hunter, Illawarra and Sydney.
Memory Walk & Jogis an all-inclusive event where people of all fitness levels can participate –from grandkids to grandparents. This year marks the 15thanniversary of the Memory Walk & Jog; the event started small in 2004 but has since grown to becomeone of Dementia ’s major fundraising events. All money raised goes directly back into the support services offered by Dementia in the local areas.
Memory Walk & Jog ambassadors includeIta Buttrose, Natarsha Belling, Doris Younane and Sam Poolman.
Angela says it’s a cause close to her heart and to hundreds of thousands of others whose lives are touched by dementia each year.There are currently around425,416 ns living with dementia,anestimated 196,490 carers in the community,and94,670 carers working in the cared accommodation sector.
“The impact of dementia is not only felt by the person diagnosedbut also those close to them,” Angela says.
“It is so important that people know where to go to get the help and support they need – and more importantly,how to navigate the system. Funds raised by Memory Walk & Jogwill help provide provide this support, such as counselling, support groups and education, to families and carers affected by this disease.”
In 2017, dementia was estimated to cost $14.67 billion. By 2025, the total cost of dementia is predicted to increase to $18.7 billion.
Angela and her father Mauro
Angela also says that those struggling with a loved one’sdiagnosisare bound to feel frustrated and lost at times –and that’s okay.
“I would let carers andfamily members know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and sometimes to feel guilty, exhausted, frustrated and absolutely helpless!” she says.
“You talk to and look after your loved one whoyou have known forever, but each day youlearn to deal with their changing personality and habits.It can be confronting for you, and at times, scary.
“My advice would be to join a support group in your area.You’ll meet carers and people diagnosed with dementia, people who are at different stages on their journey who may be able to help with your questions. It gives you the opportunityshare your experience and not feel isolated.
“Most importantly”, she says,“Be kind to yourself.You will have good and bad days.Ask for help.Asking for help is not a sign of failure;it’s a step you need to take to allow you to continue in your role as a carer.”
Angela believes theMemory Walk initiative iscrucial to generating awareness and funds for dementia in , which will touch almost every nlife in some capacity in their lifetime. Currently around 250people are diagnosed with dementia each day.
Full proceeds from Angela’s bookI’ll Remember for you Grandadwill be donated to the Memory Walk & Jog in memory of her late father, Mauro.
“I think it’s so important to raise awareness and educate people about dementia.I really hope the money raised from Memory Walk & Jog will assist people who have the disease and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect.”
You can donate to Angela’s fundraising page by clicking this link
For more information or to get involved with Memory Walk & Jog, visit the website
2018 KEY DATESIllawarra – Stuart Park, North Wollongong –4thMarch
Adelaide – Colley Reserve, Glenelg –18thMarch
Sydney – Tench Reserve, Penrith –25thMarch
Melbourne – Westerfolds Park, Templestowe 22ndApril
Geelong – Barwon Valley Park, Belmont –29thApril
Sydney – Leichhardt Oval #3, Lilyfield –6thMay
The Hunter – Speers Point Park, Lake Macquarie –20thMay
Brisbane – Rocks Riverside Park, Seventeen Mile Rocks –3rdJune
Gold Coast – Pratten Park, Old Burleigh Road, Broadbeach –10thJune
Sunshine Coast – Kawana Surf Club, Buddina –24thJune
This article is sponsored by Dementia