When Canberra's Narelle laces up her joggers and joins hundreds of others walking Lake Burley Griffin's foreshore this month to raise funds for people living with dementia it will be the times she's spent with her mum that will be flooding through her mind.
With her husband and two sons alongside her this will be her first time taking part in Dementia Australia's Memory Walk & Jog event, but not her last.
She's getting on board the annual event for her "gorgeous" mum Jeanette who was diagnosed with dementia several years ago.
"I wanted to find a way that I could actively contribute to those going through similar journeys to me," she said. "The fact that the Memory Walk & Jog also raises vital funds to support people with dementia, their families and carers made it even better.
"Dementia Australia has been a great source of information for me to further understand the changes mum is going through. This has been so useful, particularly in the early stages where things felt scary, confusing and lonely."
The first signs of Narelle's mother's dementia were some forgetfulness and repeated questions, but it was a few years before the family were able to convince Jeanette to seek a diagnosis.
"At first Mum just put it down to, 'Everyone forgets things as they get older'. But it felt like there might be more to it and after doing some research I felt this may be dementia and we would need to go get her diagnosed," she said.
"Mum has always been an incredibly positive, encouraging, amazing and creative woman. As a child, I remember every morning mum would get up, go around the house throwing open the curtains and say something funny like, 'Today is the first day of the rest of your life' or 'Carpe Diem - seize the day'!
"It has been tough seeing mum slowly become a shadow of the personality she once was, but despite her dementia she has still remained easy going, happy and excels at living in the moment."
"The hardest part of this journey with mum has been accepting that she is not the same person as she used to be. Mum and I have always been incredibly close, we used to talk on the phone several times a week. In the early stages of her diagnosis she would phone me several times a day (because she had forgotten we'd already spoken), but now she forgets to phone altogether."
Narelle said she and her mum had always been very close and did many things together.
"I miss that a lot," she said. "We would go to galleries and cafes regularly. I do try to still do this with her as much as I can.
"Mum never missed baking me a cake for my birthday each year, even into my late twenties, but unfortunately now she is unable to cook, and has trouble remembering dates and milestones, even though she religiously notes things in her annual diary.
"Mum's love for cooking, family time and creativity also meant for her Christmas was a big tradition we shared. Together we would plan a menu, coordinate the tree decorating, plan the gifts, and brave a very early and busy big shop at the markets."
The effect on their father has also been a heartbreaking part of her family's journey.
"It's been very hard to watch. However, he has really stepped up as mum has gotten worse. When mum could no longer cook - cooking had been mum's passion so she always wanted to cook herself - dad took this up for her. I remember how proud he was when he told me he'd prepared a casserole from scratch and made spare to put in the freezer," Narelle said.
"Mum's journey with dementia has been full of ups and downs. One thing it has helped me improve exponentially is my patience. It has been a hard skill to learn, but I have become very good at being patient with mum.
"I just repeat myself, answer her questions, divert or change the subject or activity, and try not to get too bogged down in the detail. This has taken practice, as my immediate reaction is to correct.
"It's kind of like throwing all rules and preconceptions away and as my mum says, 'Just live in that very moment - Carpe Diem!'."
The Canberra Memory Walk & Jog takes place on Sunday, February 23 on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. There are 2km and 7.5km options for the whole family, including dogs. The event raises much-needed funds to help provide invaluable support, education and resources for people living with dementia in Australia, their carers, families and friends.To get more information, sign up or support the cause head to memorywalk.com.au/Canberra.
This is sponsored content for Dementia Australia.