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Linda's story- Elder Relationship Service

Want to know how our Elder Relationship Service helps families? Read Linda's story!

Relationships Australia Elders Relationship Service - Linda’s Family

Every day, thousands of Australian families negotiate complex issues relating to ageing. Linda’s family is one of them, grappling with the implications of their mother’s worsening dementia. The family is now accessing the Relationships Australia Elder Relationship Service - a new counselling and mediation service to support families just like them. Here is their story.

Linda, 52, has been navigating the slow progression of her mum’s dementia for the past five years. Her mum June, now 85, has Alzheimer’s disease - the most common form of dementia. And whilst Linda and her two brothers provide extensive support to their mum, June still lives at home with 94-year-old Ted, her husband of more than 60 years and primary carer.

For this close family the journey’s brought challenges, testing even the strongest of family bonds. And now, cohesive and unified decisions, on things like money, care plans, the family home and even Ted’s future living arrangements, are looming. The journey requiring more than any family member anticipated—requiring tough decisions that have June’s best interests at heart, yet from time to time, adversely impact family members both emotionally and financially.

The most difficult part for Ted and the family is that June’s brain is now altered, and Alzheimer’s has changed her. Linda says there are varied stages of the journey and a large part of it has been watching her mum deteriorate and turn into another person. Linda describes her mum as often irrational, frightened and aggressive—a different person than she used to be, which for the family, is hard to watch, let alone manage.

Linda says whilst navigating this journey the family has learned more about dementia and what the illness does to a person. But the journey’s been long, with siblings and extended family members, responding differently to this unique, emotional and testing family crisis. And for the first time, close relationships are beginning to feel threatened—the family finding themselves with different ideas about things like money, housing, living arrangements and health decisions.

With June no longer able to make decisions about her future, and Ted wanting and needing someone else to decide, the family reached out. Now engaged with the Relationships Australia Elder Relationship Service the family is meeting regularly with a mediator. With this support they are better able to work through the issues they face. And Linda is confident that issues raised by her mother’s illness can be resolved with less conflict so family relationships are supported and even strengthened.

To find out more about Relationships Australia and this unique service visit https://www.racr.relationships.org.au/services/elder-relationship-services

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