Judy Adam and her husband Ron have been going to the football for years. Ron thoroughly enjoys it, but when they are going home, he often asks Judy… “who won?”
Ron was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2008, and Judy has cared for him since that day, every day.
“He forgets.” Says Judy. “His long-term memory is great; he can remember most people’s names. But his short-term memory is bad. As soon as I say something, he has forgotten it.”
Judy thinks that signs of Ron’s decline were presenting four or five years before his diagnosis when she looks back at his behaviour.
“I’d say he’s had it (Alzheimer’s) for about 14 years. I was working, travelling all over the place, and Ron came with me. The two things that I remember noticing, were that he kept getting lost as he had completely lost his sense of direction, and little steps, he was just taking little steps.”
Judy and Ron were living on the Murray, but due to a lack of services, they moved to Melbourne in 2013.
“He was just sitting around at home, watching tv during the day, I couldn’t get him outside at all. I realised he needed stimulation and a certain amount of challenge. So, we decided we’d come down. It cost us a bit of money, but it was the best thing I’ve done for him.”
When they moved, Judy did some research and found VMCH’s White Road Community Centre, which has a regular Men’s Shed program.
Since Ron has been attending the Men’s Shed, she feels that his condition has improved markedly.
“He’s done so well. Sometimes the kids say, ‘look, mum, he’s better than he was five years ago’, and I put that down to him going to these services. I couldn’t be happier that I found that place. Ron has done brilliantly since he’s been going there. I think he’d be dead now if he didn’t go. Just sitting in his chair and going to bed. How long can you do that for?
“He was an artist, he loved painting. They get him painting over there at White Road, and even though he’s not as good now as he was, he still enjoys it. They get him doing all these different things, if he was at home, he wouldn’t paint, he would just watch telly.
“White Road is a terrific facility; the workers are great, and it’s been a lifesaver for me. It’s five hours, three times a week. But, five hours of respite still leaves you with another 19 hours in the day, so while it might be great, the other 19 hours you wear it.”
To give Judy a break overnight, Ron also spends one night a week at Carinya House in Lysterfield.
“It’s hard work. He has a lot of difficulties, but that’s ok. It gives me a break once a week, so I don’t have to be woken up lots of times during the night. There are just so many things I don’t have to do, which is lovely. That’s why Carinya is so good, I don’t have to worry about him at all.”
When asked how she has a lot of patience, Judy laughs.
“A lot of patience? Well, you need it, but I’m not sure I have enough. I would like to think that I am making life as pleasant and comfortable as possible for him. I’ll probably be dead before him! But when he goes, I won’t have to think that I didn’t do everything I possibly could.”
“It is very sad, but it is what it is. You can’t change it. I’m a very positive person, I think you can’t dwell on the past, you can’t change it, it’s happening. You can only do something about the present and the future.”