Finding the positive - Ann’s dementia journey

22 Sep 2023
Finding the positive - Ann’s dementia journey

Ann Pietsch was busy at her regular job in her local council office where she’d been working for years, when she first realised something wasn’t right…

“Suddenly I was unable to do the tasks I’d always done with ease. I couldn’t stay focused and I kept forgetting things from one meeting to the next,” Ann said.

At home, things were getting harder too. Ann would forget the flour when baking a cake and find herself confused by simple tasks like hanging out the washing. As these little mishaps became more regular, her family and colleagues took notice and soon there was little doubt something was happening to Ann.

“I’ve got a background in nursing and have spent a lot of time with people who had dementia, so I had an understanding of what might be happening to me, but that didn’t make it any less scary.”

Ann didn’t waste any time going to see her doctor, who confirmed her fears that she had dementia, changing her life forever.

While Ann knew her memory was fading, her drive and passion has remained. A decade has now passed since her diagnosis and she’s been a dedicated advocate ever since. Sharing her experience to raise awareness about the reality of living with the condition, inspire hope and emphasise the importance of research.

As the years go by, Ann’s dementia continues to progress, with the onset of Parkinson's Disease symptoms making life even more difficult, affecting her balance and causing tremors. Sleep has also become a struggle, due to vivid hallucinations in the night and Ann's husband has had to be her rock, while her children continue to do their best to support her.

In the face of all these daily challenges, Ann shows tremendous resolve and finds a way to stay positive. She’s still a great conversationalist with energy to burn and with her commitment to advocacy giving her purpose and helping to keep her mind as sharp as possible.

Ann’s a big proponent for person-centred care and optimistic about the search for answers.

“I’m so grateful to organisations like SAHMRI that treat dementia as a challenge to be met, not a life sentence to pity.”

“The fear and stigma surrounding dementia stops many people from seeking help and that’s why it’s so important importance to address dementia with compassion and understanding.”

With unwavering determination, Ann continues to face down the unknown and embrace every day as an opportunity to make a difference. Her hope for the future rests on ongoing research, finding treatments and ultimately a cure, a mission she shares with SAHMRI’s Dr Andrew Shoubridge.

“I’m leading a unique project looking at the impact of food and medication on the development and management of dementia,” Dr Shoubridge said.

“This feeds into my broader research investigating the relationship between the gut and the brain. This is a rapidly growing field of medical research that’s showing strong promise as a foundation for the development of future dementia treatments.”

“Thank you for your ongoing support of SAHMRI. You’re helping young researchers like me develop world-leading ideas that will have a major impact on our community and our loved ones.”

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