"FOR those touched by dementia, life can seem like an unsolvable puzzle with too many blanks to fill and too few clues to work with.
A new fundraising initiative called Remember December has made it its mission to help fill in the blanks by encouraging Australians to raise funds for vital research.
They have launched the Crossword Challenge, which asks participants to complete one crossword a day for December with friends and family making donations to recognise their effort.
With up to 350,000 Australians living with some form of dementia and 1700 new diagnoses each week the disease is increasingly prevalent.
For people like Diana Edwards, whose 84-year-old father suffers from Alzheimer’s, the pain of having a family member no longer recognise her has been heartbreaking.
Ms Edwards said she felt compelled to act after watching her father slowly deteriorate.
“How I show my love to my father who doesn’t recognise me is to be strong and fight this disease by raising money.”
“That is the only way we will be able to find a cure,” she said.
“There is very little understanding about what people go through. My father is 84, he doesn’t speak or walk and he doesn’t remember any of us now and it’s heartbreaking.”
“As I get older, you start hearing more people experiencing it with their parents.”
Ms Edwards said she leapt at the opportunity to create more awareness about the disease.
“I’m not very good at crosswords but I love to keep my brain active and I’ll absolutely give it a go. I can’t wait.” It’s time to Remember December
The Remember December logo.
Funds collected through DonatePlanet.com, go to Neuroscience Research Australia.
Neuroscience Research Australia CEO Professor Peter Schofields said initiatives like Remember December were important ways of raising awareness and much needed funding.
“It’s something that’s going to affect lots of us and perhaps we haven’t talk about it,” Prof Schofields said.
“Dementia research is very much under funded and while care and better facilities are important, we shouldn’t just treat the symptoms, we have to treat the cause too.”
“Research shows that keeping a healthy brain means being healthy in the body and in the mind.”
“Something like the Crossword Challenge is clever because it generates awareness and encourages cognitive training,” he said.
“Evidence shows that people who have more intellectual stimulation, are less likely to suffer from dementia.
“Doing crosswords or being socially engaged or learning a language is, hugely important in preventing dementia.”
It’s about collecting and processing information,” he said.
Remember December founder Damien Stenmark, has also been touched by the disease and said Australia’s ageing population meant there was an urgent need to confront it.
“Let’s try and do something by raising as much money and awareness as we can,” Mr Stenmark said.
“Our population is ageing and there are drugs keeping every other part of our body living longer but not necessarily our brain.”
“It’s about finding a cure, that’s the focus for doing this,” he said.
The Sunday Telegraph and The Daily Telegraph have thrown their support behind the Remember December initiative.
From December 1, the crossword pages will be branded for Remember December to encourage people to take the challenge and help raise money for an important initiative."
Re-posted with permission from The Sunday Telegraph.