ANGI McCluskey and her family have vowed not to indulge in chocolate for the entire month of March following a harrowing experience in 2018 when Angi’s husband Michael, who has Alzheimer’s disease, went missing in Kings Park.
The Roleystone resident said signing up to the Chocolate Block Challenge to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s WA will be a ‘walk in the park’ for the family compared to the panic they experienced following a day out that went horribly wrong.
“We were having a lovely picnic with friends at Kings Park on the Sunday of the long weekend in September last year,” Angi said.
“After a while Michael became agitated and started walking around so we decided to pack up and leave.
“I went to collect the car while Michael stayed with our friends to start packing up the picnic.
“I was about half way to the car when my friends called me on my mobile and asked if Michael was with me as he wasn’t with them.
“It was the most horrific feeling; the panic was instantaneous as Michael’s dementia had deteriorated recently and he had become more and more confused.”
Mrs McCluskey said after checking the immediate area and finding no sign of her husband they called the rangers.
“Then after a short period the WA Police were called, then SES volunteers and the media became involved,” she said.
“Michael had been missing for six hours by now and it was past 9pm.
“Michael had a GPS tracker but it wasn’t working at the time so he didn’t have it on him.
“Eventually when the search area was expanded to the CBD Michael was spotted by a police patrol car walking near Fast Eddies.
“Everyone involved did the most amazing job – the WA Police in particular were absolutely outstanding.
“It was the most horrendous experience but luckily Michael’s story had a good ending.”
Mrs McCluskey said the grandkids may find it hard to forgo chocolate for a month.
“But they know it’s for a good cause and it’s going to help other people like their Pa (their grandfather),” she said.
Alzheimer’s WA CEO Rhonda Parker said funds raised from the Chocolate Block Challenge will be used to support and make a positive difference to the lives of people living with dementia in WA.
“Angi is an absolute champion,” Ms Parker said.
“After the terrible ordeal at Kings Park, Angi was keen to help other families caring for a loved one with dementia.
“Through our Dementia Friendly Communities project, Angi became the driving force behind the start-up of a memory cafe in Roleystone, then another one in York and a third in Toodyay.
“She has made an amazing contribution.”
Ms Parker said there were currently 41,149 people living with dementia in WA and approximately 70 per cent live in their own home in the community.
“Dementia is the leading cause of death of women in Australia, and the second leading cause of death of all Australians and there is currently no cure,” she said.
“There is a pressing need for communities to be better informed about how they can support those in their neighbourhoods and towns who are living with dementia.
“I urge everyone who has been touched by dementia to sign up to the Chocolate Block Challenge.
If you are concerned about dementia, please call 1300 66 77 88