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Many of these people are front line support staff, and others are researchers, academics, and advocates.

We asked four experts in different areas of dementia-related work to tell us what inspires them about their work. The answers they gave are varied and full of hope for a different outcome for people living with dementia.

Each of our experts has brought a different perspective on their inspiration. It is extremely interesting to hear of why they do the work that they are doing, and what gets them excited to do the work that they are doing.

Dr Brigid Ryan

Research Fellow, University of Auckland (pictured above)

“My research involves working with a family who carry a genetic mutation that causes dementia. Family members who carry the mutation develop frontotemporal dementia in their 50s, experiencing symptoms that eventually lead to profound changes in personality and loss of independence. I’m inspired by this family’s commitment to being involved in research as participants, and their conviction that research holds the key to preventing dementia in future generations of their family. I’m inspired by their support for each other, and their willingness to help other families living with frontotemporal dementia.”

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Dr Sarah France

MbCHB FRANZCP, Certificate in POA Psychogeriatrician

“The real inspiration for me is the people I meet as part of my work and the amazing stories they share. As a psychiatrist people tell you their life story at the first meeting and this is a privilege that people put that level of trust in me. These stories often catch you by surprise and include adventures that you can never dream of. I aim to allow the adventures and stories to continue to be positive and full of love and joy. I am also inspired by the care partners and their strength and resilience and aim to support them and their loved ones through the dementia journey.”

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Prof Perminder Sachdev

Scientia Professor of Neuropsychiatry, Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), University of New South Wales, and Director, Neuropsychiatric Institute, The Prince of Wales Hospital

“On a daily basis in my clinic, I see dementia rob people of their highly valued abilities, their cherished memories, and indeed their dignity. I cannot but leave my clinic with the thought, ‘What can be done so that dementia no longer strikes fear in the hearts of older people?’ The approach I have taken is not to look for a cure, but to see if we can prevent dementia, or at least push back its onset so as to add quality years to a person’s life. We now have good evidence to show that this can at least be partially achieved by modifying risk factors. This message of hope can make people strive toward a healthy lifestyle and lifelong management of risk, with the added benefit of a healthy old age.”

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Dr Kathy Peri

Senior lecturer, University of Auckland

“What drives me in my mahi is I want to make the world a better place for people living with dementia including their care partners and whānau. I have been able to do this as the Director of Dementia Learning Centre at Alzheimers NZ building an evidenced based knowledge resource and at University of Auckland where I am conducting research to improve the quality of life for those with a diagnosis of dementia. One of the most exciting things about my work is hearing stories from older people and their carers which supports the development of new research and ideas.”

Please donate to our Windows on Dementia appeal today.