AGE is no barrier to being active and sociable for 88-year-old Wally Meacock.
Every morning he starts the day with a 6am ocean swim with the Port Beach Polar Bears in North Fremantle.
Then on Thursdays he plays 18 holes of golf, and each month visits his local Probus Club to catch up with friends or listen to a guest speaker.
But keeping fit and in touch with mates started to become more challenging a few years ago when Beth, his bellowed wife of 67 years, began to develop dementia.
“It became difficult to care for Beth on my own, and while I would do anything for her, we decided that we needed to get some help,” Wally says.
Thankfully a dedicated Baptistcare consultant guided Beth and Wally through the process of finding the right level of home care.
Team members now visit regularly to help Beth (also 88) with personal care and social issues and prepare meals, cleaning, gardening and home maintenance.“
Arranging for home care has given me my independence back, and I can continue to do the things I love knowing that Beth is well looked after,” Wally says.
“It has also been comforting to know she is in good company. I often come home to Beth teaching our support worker to knit and discuss her favourite recipes.”
Wally and Beth first met when they enrolled at the former Claremont Teachers College.
Marrying in 1954, they taught at many schools across WA with Wally eventually becoming a principal and a superintendent of education.
Wally and Beth now have a family of four sons, 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
“For Beth and I, being able to remain at home with support and care means we can stay connected to our family at such an important stage in our lives,” Wally says.
There are 33,300 West Australians with dementia, according to Dementia Australia WA.
Without a medical breakthrough, this number is projected to increase rapidly and in less than 10 years will reach 36,500. The 2010 Access Economics Report found the number of people with dementia in WA will rise to to 109,000 by 2050, with 117 new cases diagnosed each day.
The top 10 council areas ranked according to dementia prevalence in 2010 were Stirling, Melville, Joondalup, Mandurah, Wanneroo, Rockingham, Gosnells, Canning, Bayswater and Swan.