An unfortunate diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s disease four years ago spurred Roleystone resident Angi McCluskey to not only change the life of her beloved husband Michael but also many others living with the disease.
Mrs McCluskey founded the Forget-Me-Not Café at Roleystone’s Garden Tearooms after attending a five-week Alzheimer’s WA workshop and discovering the need for the monthly get together in her local community.
The Roleystone meet up soon grew from just a couple of attendees at the first session two years ago to now welcoming about 30 people each month.
The idea has also gained traction with the support of local government and not-for-profit groups and is now operating in several other areas across the state including Armadale, Gosnells, Rockingham, York, Toodyay, Northam and Fremantle, with plans for meet ups in Kalamunda, Kwinana, Cockburn and Mandurah due to commence next year.
Mrs McCluskey’s grand efforts were recognised at a state wide level recently as she was awarded Metropolitan Western Australia Senior of the Year at this year’s WA Seniors Awards.
She said she was surprised and unaware that she had even been nominated by her Forget- Me-Not peers for the award.
“I am humbled and felt both excited and privileged to receive the award of Senior of the Year and have never received anything like this before,” she said.
“My husband Michael was always the fun loving gregarious member of our family.
“However, living with dementia has stripped him of his confidence and extrovert personality, whereas I was always somewhat quiet and shy.
“I knew if Michael could understand his condition he would not want to be shut away or feel isolated and that is why I have pushed myself to be more outgoing and attack the negativity surrounding dementia.”
Mrs McCluskey is also a carer representative on the Consumer Advisory Council at Fremantle Hospital, an Alzheimer’s Western Australia advocate and a member for Carers WA and Dementia Australia.
Roleystone’s Forget-Me-Not Memory Café is now held at Avocados on Mount Street, Kelmscott on the first Friday of every month from 10am.
For more information visit the Forget-Me-Not-Café website.