MEMORY WALK: Cynthia Hoogstraten is hosting a community walk for dementia on the first anniversary of her father's passing to raise money and awareness of the disease.
MEMORY WALK: Cynthia Hoogstraten is hosting a community walk for dementia on the first anniversary of her father's passing to raise money and awareness of the disease. CONTRIBUTED

Bundy woman's special act after dad's heartbreaking death

DEMENTIA affects one in 10 Australians over the age of 65 and is a topic Bundaberg's Cynthia Hoogstraten holds close to her heart.

Ms Hoogstraten's father Henk died last year after battling with the disease for some time, and on the first anniversary of his passing will host a Memory Walk in his honour.

"My dad always told me, with anything I did, to give it a year,” she said.

"Whether it was a new job, or starting something different, he'd always just say to give it a year, and this is symbolic of that.

"I'm not trying to put a time frame on grieving but I thought it would be a way to raise awareness and remember him in one event.”

The Memory Walk is an initiative of Dementia Australia, all funds raised increasing their ability to provide vital support and services to patients and families of those affected.

"My dad had a number of favourite places where I'd take him as his carer, and Bargara and Mon Repos were his favourite places to sit under a pandanus tree and enjoy a cup of coffee,” Ms Hoogstraten said.

"That's why the walk on August 4 will begin at the Bargara Surf Life Saving Club at 8am and will follow the turtle trail to Mon Repos onto the beach and then back again.

"It will just be a pretty relaxing and gentle walk for anyone that wants to join and raise money for the cause.”

Ms Hoogstraten is passionate about advocating and educating on the importance of understanding the disease.

"It's not just about me and my dad - there are many people in the community touched by dementia,” she said.

"People are struggling and finding it challenging, and they need to be aware that there are services out there to help them.

"They might not understand what's going on with their loved ones which can be frustrating for family members.

"Dementia Australia is a great website that has a lot of information.”

Ms Hoogstraten said this was a conversation people needed to be having.

"It's such a common disease that the baby boomer generation really need to be having with their parents,” she said.

"As soon as they or their family find out, affairs really do need to be put in place as soon as possible before it gets to a point where they have no capacity to make decisions.”

Staying active physically and mentally are two ways to help prevent the onset of dementia.

"Getting out into nature, walking and being with other people is all part of keeping the brain healthy,” she said.

"Activities like learning a new language or even simple things like doing crosswords or learning a new skill are great for brain function.

"That's what I try to do with my drumming, it's focusing and using the brain to learn new rhythms in a simple and enjoyable way which lowers the risk factor of dementia.

"There's nothing that can stop it, but there are aspects to lowering the risk, and stimulating the brain is very important.

"Through my drumming and advocating, this is my way of making something meaningful.”

To buy a ticket or donate, visit https://bit.ly/2GWDnpv



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