Forgetfulness didn’t add up
PERTH WHEN Tony Ranshaw noticed that his 53-year-old mathematician wife had difficulty counting money he knew something was wrong.
“I started to notice things weren’t quite right with my wife Jane when she could not work out, say how much $15.40 was and instead started using either $50 notes or credit cards to pay for everything,” Tony Ranshaw said.
“Jane was always a very intellectual woman and she did not want to cause me stress, so I knew she was hiding something.”
It was only when the South Perth couple saw their GP they realised there was a serious problem.
“Our GP did not think it was depression and we had to wait a month for my wife to have a memory test which detected significant problems,” Mr Ranshaw said.
“The tests went on for a few months to eliminate other causes and then she was finally diagnosed with early onset dementia.”
Since Mrs Ranshaw’s diagnosis in 2001, Mr Ranshaw has been actively involved with various national dementia research and lobby groups and says he was grateful to the doctors and specialists for the early diagnosis.
“We were lucky to get an early diagnosis which was within two years of Jane contracting the disease, as a late diagnosis can make life very difficult in terms of financial decisions,” he said.
“If Jane had been diagnosed one month later, we would not have had a medical professional’s approval to sign an enduring power of attorney to sort out our financial and legal affairs.”
Within six months of her diagnosis, Mrs Ranshaw could not read, write or tell the time.
Mr Ranshaw gave up his job in the oil and gas industry to take care of his wife full-time, but the couple still decided to enjoy the things they liked such as holidaying overseas, going out and bike riding.
“It affected me and my children, but my children were very good at helping me with Jane and most of our friends were incredibly supportive, although we lost some who just could not deal with it,” Mr Ranshaw said.
Mr Ranshaw managed to care for his wife for eight years at home before moving her into full-time care.
One year before Mrs Ranshaw went into full-time care she could not remember who her husband was.
“She has been in full-time care for six years now and I visit her about two or three times a week but she does not know who I am anymore; I could be anybody,” he said.
Tony and Jane Ranshaw tried to live as normal a life as they could after her diagnosis of early onset dementia.