ANNE and Anthony vanNiekerk had planned a retirement of travelling, reading books and relaxing in each other’s company.
But a dementia diagnosis 2 years ago changed everything.
Mrs vanNiekerk initially suspected her husband was going deaf.
But when he passed a hearing test, she realised comprehension was lacking.
Until then, Dr vanNiekerk was healthy and working a day a week as a radiologist.
The 76-year-old’s condition has since worsened and needs 24-hour care.
The New Lambton Heights couple said they could not have coped without support from the Alzheimer’s Australia NSW Dementia and Memory Resource Centre in Hamilton.
It offered friendship, social activities and advice.
The pair are joining an inaugural awareness and fund-raising Hunter Memory Walk and Jog tomorrow at Speers Point Park.
About 1000 people are expected at the Alzheimer’s Australia race, which includes a two kilometre walk, a 7.5kilometre walk and 7.5kilometre jog.
Late registrations for tomorrow’s race will be taken from 8.30am.
CHANGES: Anne and Anthony vanNiekerk are dealing with the effects of dementia. Picture by PETER STOOP