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Sharing their personal journey

  

By Sheree Hoddinett 

 



Three women, one road trip and now a book, it’s been a whirlwind few years for the Brown family. It all started in 2021, when sisters Stephanie and Christine embarked on a 17,500km, two-year road trip across Australia with their mother Kay, who has dementia. It was also during this trip that the family found their new home, right here on Bribie Island.  

 

Kay’s journey with dementia began in 2008, after her husband Colin passed away. Although it was a slow process, it became increasingly noticeable as time passed. In January 2021, Kay’s son Anthony died after a shockingly brief illness, leaving the family facing further grief. It was after this that Kay’s dementia advanced rapidly. Christine and Stephanie didn’t want to put their mother in a home and decided to take a trip, create memories and embrace their mother with love and happiness while she could still enjoy it. It was during this adventure that Christine’s book, The Dementia Diary, came to fruition. 

 

“The book began as a blog on our website as a way of connecting with others and to document or record our experiences about being on the road and dealing with the ever-changing world dementia brings,” Christine explains. “It was a way for me to express myself during this time.” 

 

Knowing the blog was well-received, Christine decided a book was the next best step, also creating an opportunity to celebrate her mother’s life.  

 

“Everyone has stories and I believe they should be shared,” Christine said. “Yes, this is personal but it can also be seen as universal. Our story is about love, care, family, community and joy. Everyone can relate to that. 

“A person with dementia doesn’t sign up for it and neither do the carers. It’s something we have to accept and find ways to live with. My sister and I wanted to do something different, even when we were told it was a bad idea, we did it anyway and it was the best thing we could have done, for all of us.” 

 

The bulk of the book was written over a two-year period and is a carer’s perspective of life with dementia. It’s aimed at those going down the dementia road who may want an understanding of the disease or maybe a different perspective of how to cope with it. 

 

“My sister and I are not health practitioners, we are two daughters who adore their mother and want the best for her,” Christine said. “If our experiences with dementia and how we dealt with it can help just one other person going through their own dementia journey, then we are happy women. It can be fun and loving – it’s not all sadness and fear – it's just the way you approach it.” 

 

It’s not every day you get to travel around the country with the ones you love most, but for Christine and Stephanie and their mother Kay, it was a much-needed way of returning some joy into their lives after losing another family member.  

 

“We had been a family of six and now we are a family of three and we wanted, or rather, needed to be together,” Christine said. “Our adventure healed us in ways you can’t imagine and brought us together as three strong loving women who are blessed to be family.” 

 

With Kay becoming frail during their trip, the decision was made to find a place to care for her. The Island was the lucky spot chosen with the ladies calling it home for the last 18 months.  

 

“I now live in Woorim and absolutely love it,” Christine shares. “I have wonderful friends; everything is close by and the beach is my favourite place to be. Bribie Island is amazing and I’m so happy I get to call it home. 

“Mum is amazing. She turned 90 this year, she is happy and healthy, has a wonderful personality and remains funny, loving and sweet. She can also still be very cheeky, which we love. She is also well cared for and even though she rarely knows who we are, she has an understanding that we are special people and that’s all that matters to us.” 

 

If you would like to know more about The Dementia Diary and where you can get a copy, visit https://www.christine-brown.com.au

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