A Past Life

Duality in one’s life comes in many different forms and factors. Duality in itself is almost yin and yang, black and white as one might say. The disease, dementia is what I believe to be the duality in the sufferer’s life. To live one life from birth all the way up to diagnosis then switching almost completely into a life that is unrecognisable, a life that is so vastly different to the one before that it’s truly heartbreaking and shocking to witness. Leigh Baumann has experienced first hand the duality of lives that couldn’t be more different from each other. Leigh suffers from Dementia, while not a specific disease, is a group of conditions characterised by impairment of at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and judgement. Leigh was diagnosed in 2013 and in 2014, permanently moved into an IRT nursing home in Wollongong, where she still resides today. Dementia is a slow, progressive condition that worsens in condition as time progresses. Leigh suffered from progressive forgetfulness, memory loss and thinking abilities that effected her everyday life that started off as small occurrences of forgetfulness into what the condition has morphed into now, a state in which Leigh is mute, not aware of her surroundings and cannot recognise or identify her loved ones or nurses who assist her. 

According to Dementia Australia, there are many types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy body disease. Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65. Leigh, unfortunately, was diagnosed when she was 65, making her diagnosis particularly unusual due to her young age, in terms of dementia diagnosis. Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians and in 2016, became the leading cause of death of Australian women, surpassing heart disease which has been the leading cause of death for both men and women since the early 20th century. In 2017, dementia remained the first leading cause of death of women and the third leading cause of death of men. Overall, accounting for 13,729 deaths. When asked if she feels there will ever be a cure or something to help identify early signs of Dementia, her daughter-in-law Amanda Baumann states that “Not only does it affect the individual, but it affects the individual’s family on almost the same level. I’m confident that they will find a cure and hopefully find early detection to prolong the symptoms of the disease.” Leigh now lives a completely different life than she did 7 years ago, she lives somewhere else, she lives with new people and this horrible, shocking condition has given her a completely new identity as well. It has stripped her of every single thing us humans take for granted. 

Link to Audio Visual Piece: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1V6tfo6f6-zcTBWMB-e6Pxq11-PaWHogB/view?usp=sharing

Link to Tweets: https://twitter.com/baumann_jasper/status/1327918987372494853

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