Kialla House provides relief

By Tara Whitsed

Mooroopna couple Gaye and Ken Fleming have had their fair share of heartache.

The Flemings, who have been married for 46 years, lost their two adult sons just two years apart, which left them devastated.

Shortly after, things took another turn for the worse when Mr Fleming was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at just 65 years old.

‘‘It was really stressful for us because at that time we’d lost our boys ... we really weren’t in a good place,’’ Mrs Fleming said.

Mr Fleming found the diagnosis and having to give up driving hard to cope with.

But the pair found relief when Mr Fleming began attending Kialla House in Shepparton.

Run by non-profit organisation Villa Maria Catholic Homes, the program offers day and overnight respite so that carers can take a break.

Colouring is a passion Mr Fleming regularly pursues at Kialla, along with outings to the RSL for Senior Melodies.

‘‘Coming to Kialla House gives me something to look forward to each week. I have Alzheimer’s, but I remember everything I do at Kialla House,’’ he said.

This month marks Dementia Awareness Month, which aims to increase the understanding of what dementia is, what it is like to live with, and how we can better support those affected by it.

For Mrs Fleming, Mr Fleming’s time at Kialla gives her a chance to exercise, catch up with friends and continue her volunteer work.

‘‘Whenever we need to talk to someone, there’s always someone available for us,’’ she said.

The Flemings remain positive and love to share some laughs, despite the adversity they are facing.

‘‘I asked Gaye, ‘what if I forgot your name?’ And she said she wouldn’t mind that,’’ Mr Fleming said.

‘‘One of the reasons we’ve been married for so long is, I think, because us men early in the piece think we know everything — but as the years go by I’ve realised the women are mostly always right.

‘‘We’ve got good communication and we always help each other with everything.’’

For more information on Kialla House, phone 1300 971 720.