Canning Gazette

Home truths of dementia


AUTHOR Steve Hawke has spent an awful lot of time thinking about a very personal dilemma, which he has attempted to work through by writing the novel

The Mundaring-based author, who is the son of former Prime Minister

Bob Hawke and Hazel, witnessed Alzheimer’s disease slowly steal his mother’s memory, reason and sense of self.

“When this grand theft was complete and it was no longer possible for her to live in her real home, I was part of the process of finding and committing her to a ‘home’, as they are euphemisti­cally called,” Hawke said.

“As such places go it was a good one, but having spent many, many hours there, I am of the opinion that a dementia facility is as close to hell on earth as I’ve come across.” Dedicated to Hazel,

is the story of Anne and Joe, a Bassendean couple who are nearing old age and looking forward to seeing what life in retirement brings when Joe starts suffering from early onset dementia.

He decides to come up with a plan to save his family from living with his condition and attempts to find the best way to end his life.

“The book is about a whole lot more than just dementia,” he said.

“I like to call it a Bassendean love story. Joe and Anne and their daughter Claire – Drongo, Badger and Bear, as they sometimes call each other – are engaged on a journey of love, and the struggle to give life to that love against the odds.

“I believe in the individual’s right to make their own choices. But, although I am no expert on the issue, to the best of my understand­ing none of the voluntary euthanasia regimes in place or being contemplat­ed in Australia extend to the situation of dementia sufferers.

“Dementia is a tricky one, to put it mildly, in the euthanasia discussion, because it is very much about mental capacity rather than physical pain and suffering.”

Despite dealing with incredibly dark themes, Hawke, who wrote

(2018) and play

has used a lot of humour in his latest novel.

is published by Fremantle Press and available now.

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