A year in one day

This is the story of Sarah, 38 year old mother of three, wife, child-care worker and footy fan who, with the help of Baptcare, experienced a year in one day one Sunday in April.

After a diagnosis of younger onset dementia (YOD) four years ago, Sarah and her husband Mick set two goals, they would make the most of their time as a family and they would raise awareness about this cruel disease.

Jenny Puxley, Baptcare Diversional Therapist, said it has been a “privilege to help Sarah and her family achieve their goals.”

“I was engaged to assist Sarah, her husband Mick and their three kids last year,” Jenny said.

“Sarah could no longer verbally communicate and was finding it increasingly difficult to engage with strangers. Mick left his job to become sole carer for Sarah and their three kids. Despite having a funding package built up, he was finding it difficult to accept help from anyone due to Sarah’s inability to cope with unfamiliar people.”

“There’s no point pushing services on people who aren’t ready for them. The best thing I could do for the family was to be there for them and help them realise their goal of raising awareness with the Sarah’s Year in one Day event.”

Sarah’s Year in One Day, a YOD awareness event was held at Johnstone Park Geelong. All the important calendar dates like Anzac Day and the AFL Grand Final that Sarah loved to celebrate with her family will be crammed into a day of activities.

There are currently 25,100 Australians living with a diagnosis of YOD—that’s over 7% of the estimated 353,800 people living with dementia in Australia. A number predicted to rise to 400,000 in the next four years.

YOD is aggressive, progresses rapidly and is often difficult to diagnose. Accurate and early diagnoses of the condition are vital to advancing the medical community’s understanding of the disease and helping patients receive the best treatment.

“It’s so important to raise awareness about this disease,” Jenny said.

“In everything you read, ‘younger onset’ means under 65—that’s very different to 34 years old. The world isn’t ready for 34 year olds to get dementia.”

Over twenty Baptcare employees, from across Victoria, volunteered their time helping at the event and Mick and his three children had nothing but praise for Baptcare and Jenny for the support they received.

“Jenny’s been great, we couldn’t have done it without her and all of the people from Baptcare who pitched in with donations and offers to volunteer, which we’re all very grateful for.”

Of Sarah and Mick, Jenny says, “They’re an amazing couple. It doesn’t feel like work, to help them.”

Sarah passed away in August 2016.