For­get­ful­ness didn’t add up

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News -

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.

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