Kenneth Lea - The Alzheimer’s Carer

Mr Kenneth Lea, Wollongong, Australia

Interview conducted by Katina Michael.



Mr Kenneth Lea was born in England in 1929 of a coal mining family. He commenced work in coal mining in 1943 in England and married Freda in 1956. He left coal mining in 1964 to go to Africa as a mine surveyor. He worked in Zambia for 5 years (copper mining); in the UK for 1 year (tin mining); 2 years (diamond mining) in Sierra Leone; and 2 years (oil industry) in Nigeria. He returned to England in 1975 and immigrated to Australia with the rest of his family that same year. He worked as a mine surveyor in the coal industry in NSW until his retirement in 1989.



Katina Michael: We are with Mr Kenneth Lea and it’s the 11th of December 2007. Kenneth, thank you for accepting to do this interview. Could we begin with a little bit of background, about yourself and your current circumstances, with regards to dementia.

Kenneth Lea: Well, as I have said in previous discussion, it never became apparent that my wife was a sufferer for about five years, until she got very serious variations in her behavior. And for the last 4 years, it’s been a sort of in your face type of performance, if you get what I mean. It’s the way she has been acting but I can honestly say that five years before that she was showing signs but we didn’t recognize it.

Katina Michael: And what are some of the tell-tale signs, on looking back, where you could have seen the onset of dementia? What are some of the behavioral traits sufferers might display?

Kenneth Lea: Her falling out with her original doctor, the rejection of the elder daughter, Kay, was another, which at the time nobody realized, and I did not, that it was actually the onset of the problem, and I guess the other thing was not being keen on housework at the time, things on the cleaning side of the house she began to gloss over. She was doing everything, including ironing, and washing and things like that, but it was only when I started to do it myself I realized how things had slipped. As you’re living with it from day to day, you do not realize it… I didn’t realize it, somebody else may have, but I did not… and the daughters were probably too polite to mention it. But that was the sort of early onset, not realizing what it all meant, at the time. It is only when she had the second CT scan, from the specialist, that we realized. We had our suspicion beforehand, when her doctor said there was deterioration there but there was nothing to worry about, so obviously we didn’t really worry about it. It was only when they did the second CT scan, which was the one that started to show that there was some deterioration in the brain, that we realized we had the real problem of Alzheimer’s and dementia on our hands (figure 1). I don’t know what the criteria is, but some people refer to it as Alzheimer ’s disease which is what she really has, which is the dying off of brain cells, as opposed to dementia. But it is one and the same thing, as far as I am concerned. People with Alzheimer’s develop this dementia anyway.

Katina Michael: How did Freda feel at the time? Did she notice a deterioration, or do you think she didn’t really understand what was happening to her?

Kenneth Lea: I think, deep down she might have understood. But because she had always really been really personal in her own outlook on life, she wouldn’t admit to it. In the early stages, I used to try to explain to her, that she wasn’t herself, that she wasn’t what she used to be, but it seemed as though it went over her head. There was no comment either way, she wouldn’t say yes or no. You know, she wouldn’t disagree or agree, she just kept silent about it. So she never really expressed the way she felt.

Katina Michael: Do you think she noticed that she was forgetting things?

Kenneth Lea: Oh yes, without a doubt, without a doubt. In the early stages, she would be talking, and then she’d lose the plot so to speak, as though she didn’t know what she was talking about. She’d just stop, and then you’d say “oh yes, what were you going to say?” And she’d say “oh, forget it” because she couldn’t recapture what she was talking about, she’d take the easy way out and just say “oh, forget it”.

Katina Michael: Mr Lea, you told me earlier you have three children. Could you tell me what their reactions were like when you spoke to them about their mother’s condition?

Kenneth Lea: Well, the two daughters both took it the same way. I think they realized, with the conversation side of things with Freda, that something was wrong. And it came as no surprise to them. Both daughters had access to the Internet, and obviously they looked at whether it was hereditary or something like that. And they satisfied themselves with what they got off the Internet, that there was nothing to worry about. This is what the younger daughter said to me, that she realizes that it is not hereditary. And she said that Kay had done the same thing. That was the first thing they thought about, not that they asked me about it. The Internet was there, and it was easily accessible to them. But the son, in the United Kingdom, when I first told him, he said “oh hell, what sort of a future does that hold for me then”. That was his reaction, which I suppose he ought to have had. But straight away, I didn’t exactly lose my temper, but I was very firm with him, stressing the point that he had nothing whatsoever to worry about, that it wasn’t hereditary. So, no, he sort of did the same I think, because next time he spoke to me on the phone, he said he’d looked it up and got all of the information about it.

Katina Michael: Mr Lea, you mentioned that Freda liked to visit Sydney with you, and that one of the first occasions of her wandering was her getting on the train and traveling to Sydney. Could you give us some examples of her capacity to wander and how you reacted to that?

Kenneth Lea: When I was working, quite often she would go to visit Sydney and come back. Now what she did there, I have no idea, but she used to like going to Sydney as a change of scenery for the day. And being on the pension, it was sort of a day out, it was very cheap to travel. After I retired, I used to go up with her once a week, every Wednesday actually, and we’d either go to a show or to a film, or even a walk (one of the bushwalks around Sydney). So we always had something to do up there. The first time she really went missing, she went on the train, on the downline, and ended up in Unanderra (figure 2). And because she had identification at the time, not because I put it in her bag, but she had it on her, they were able to find out who and where she lived. They phoned up and told me. I thought she might have been in Sydney but it turned out she had gone the wrong way. Some security agent found her wandering there. That was the first time she really went astray. After that, there were occasions she would go up to Sydney. The first Sydney-bound occasion, I can’t really remember which one it was, but I think she was found during the day and I put this ID card in her handbag and they were able to contact me through that card. And that all happened in an afternoon. And I went up to Sydney and collected her. And I suppose on four or five occasions, afterwards she did the same thing. But one thing with my daughter being friendly with one of the station staff at Thirroul, she alerted them to the situation with Freda, and they got to the point where they would phone me up if she was down at the station and I would go and pick her up. And we did the same with the bus drivers, through the two bus services that ran through Thirroul. We are well-known in the area of Thirroul because we would every day without fail, walk to the seafront and back. Everybody was used to seeing us, walking in the town.

Katina Michael: So community was important to you. Having that contact with locals could help you cope better on occasion.

Kenneth Lea: Well, not really, because I don’t think they were really aware that there was anything wrong with Freda. I’ve still kept the walking up because of health reasons. The doctor said one of the essential things is to keep exercising. And I do a lot of walking. And the amazing thing is that I’ll meet up with people there and they’ll enquire where Freda is, and I tell them that she had to go into care, and they seem amazed. Most of them just say, they never realized there was anything amiss with her.

Katina Michael: Mr Lea, you mentioned an occasion on an Australia Day, that you had the opportunity to see a vintage car exhibition in inner Sydney, and Freda sat down for a moment and then you lost sight of her. Could you describe what happened on that occasion?

Kenneth Lea: Well, on previous occasions, when she’d gone missing in Sydney, when we got separated, she’d make her way to the station and come home on her own (figure 3). This happened on two or three occasions, I suppose. And in this particular occasion, it was mid afternoon, and I did a frantic search of the area, and you could imagine what it would be like in that environment, with the Australia Day and with all the crowds around these vintage cars. I went up and down, and then I started moving around Circular Quay and places like that where she might have gone. It was only about 8 o’clock at night that I tried to contact Patricia who lives in Thirroul, to try and find out if Freda had got home. But I couldn’t contact her, and so the best thing I thought I could do was to come home. And by that time it was almost the last train. I had a good look round at all the possible places, she could be like the Botanic Gardens… I just didn’t want to admit to myself that she had gone missing. And so I finished up coming home and by that time, I was completely whacked out, and I had convinced myself that there was nothing I could do about it because of the previous occasion involving the local police, I vowed never to do it again. So I thought, I’d catch the first train up in the morning and see if I could find her. This is what I did. I just had a quick look round at the places where we’d been and I couldn’t find her. This was at 5 o’clock in the morning, the first train, and I decided to report her missing. And the Sydney police put the alert out for her, and that was the time where they located her sitting at a park in Wollstonecraft. So I was able to collect her from there and take her home.

Katina Michael: Mr Lea, as a carer, can you tell me some of the emotions you felt, when the person that was in your care, went “missing”. What did you feel? And what went through your mind?

Kenneth Lea: Well in my situation. I wasn’t worried about Freda’s well-being because I’ve always known she could take care of herself, her experience of all the years, long before I knew her, she was able to look after herself. So I wasn’t really worried about her from that aspect, even though she was becoming a little weak with old age, but the main feeling I had was anxiety for her well-being. She didn’t know where she was and she was liable to do anything. There was no telling what she would take it in her head to do. It was just the anxiety of her being “missing” and it was a very stressful situation. Like I said, when I got home that night before, I was just completely whacked out that I just fell asleep. And I just woke up in time to catch the first train back up to Sydney. I suppose what I should’ve done, was when she was missing, and I couldn’t find her, I should’ve reported her missing then. But I had this feeling underneath that she probably made her own way home. I didn’t want to create a fuss for the police in Sydney if she was at home.

Katina Michael: Can you tell me about the local police involvement a little more, the first time you declared Freda missing and the response by the police and how you felt about it.

Kenneth Lea: Oh, the response by the police was completely over-the-top. I phoned up the police when she didn’t turn up on the last train because she was used to going up to Sydney and finding her own way home. And I had this inane sort of hope, that she would turn up right up until the last train. And it was only when she didn’t turn up on the last train, that was some time after 12 o’clock in the morning, that I reported her missing. As I said previously, the whole kabash and kaboudl turned up: the dog squad, the police rescue squad, about three other cars, making one heck of a fuss outside the house at 2 o’clock in the morning, and this is why I would never call them again. If the worst came to the worst, I would never report her missing like that again, to the Wollongong Police because it was that completely over the top.

Katina Michael: What do you think they were looking for- I mean all of that additional force?

Kenneth Lea: A “missing” person.

Katina Michael: What, outside your home?

Kenneth Lea: Yes. And she was up in Sydney… I told them that. I said: “she’s probably up in Sydney”. As far as I was concerned it was completely over the top. Probably what they are trained to do, you know the normal procedures but they just didn’t seem to want to know, what my opinion of what it all was. They just knew what they wanted to do and were doing it, but waking everybody in the neighborhood up in the process.

Katina Michael: Mr Lea, how long were you a full-time carer for your wife, after the dementia was diagnosed?

Kenneth Lea: Well, that would’ve been when she needed 24-hour supervision, after the second head scan. That was about June 2005 when I had to sort of devote my every hour to her. And it was only the last 2 years that she sort of developed this personal care, and later stages, the problem of incontinence. And then the incontinence was only at night time… She went away for a weekend once, on respite care at one stage, and the person there questioned me about her. “Does she shower herself?” “Yeah, she always has done”. Well, I never used to worry about her own personal showering but it was only when one of the people questioned her about her ability to shower that I only took notice that from then on, I’d have to help her shower.  And that is what I had to do all the way afterwards. Well, I didn’t have to do it, but I did it, to make sure that she was getting a proper shower.

Katina Michael: So you mentioned this notion of “24-hour surveillance”, and this requirement to be looking after her, for example if she walked to your letterbox in the front of your garden or left the house outdoors. How demanding is this constant care because you were on your own as well?

Kenneth Lea: Well you don’t think about it at the time, but looking back on it, it is a bit of a worry and it does wear you down. Because you are constantly thinking “where is she?”, “what is she doing?” Like I would not follow her down, I would let her go and wander around the garden. If I was indoors, I would have to sort of watch what she did, and invariably when she went out the back door she would go down to the post box, and then come back up around the garden. But on the odd occasions, she would take it in her head to go and wander off. And one of the things that I caught onto was that if she had her handbag with her I had to stop her. So it finished up with me sort of hiding her handbags so she couldn’t have them. Because she had that thing about it, that if she had her handbag she could get on the train, because she had her money with her. You see I was criticized- she used to carry two and three hundred dollars with her in her handbag- and I always thought if she does get away from me again, and people find her that at least I could tell her to put her into a taxi and she’d have the money to come back home. I used to be criticized for leaving her with so much money, from the family, but I always thought there is that situation that could arise whereby she could be found by someone completely innocently, and they could get in touch with me and I could tell them, well she’s got the money in her handbag, could you organize a taxi for her.

Katina Michael: Would she carry a mobile phone? Or she didn’t like to carry-

Kenneth Lea: No, she’s even worse than me. I don’t like mobile phones. I think I am a bit of Luddite with respect to modern technology. I think anything after the HP45 calculator I am lost. And it’s only because of this business with her deteriorating to the extent she did, that I got myself a mobile phone, so that people could contact me and get in touch if they needed me.

Katina Michael: So the care was constant. Mr Lea, could you tell us about the time that Freda was found near Westmead.

Kenneth Lea: They found her at the shopping centre near Westmead. Anyway, they took her to Westmead Hospital because she was a “lost person”, and yet she had the details in her handbag, obviously. They phoned me up and I went to pick her up at Westmead, and they wouldn’t let me take her for a couple of hours, as they said she was dehydrated and she needed to be there because she had been missing overnight. Eventually we got out of Westmead and we caught the train to Central Station, and being a warm day I thought I better get her something to drink before we get on the train again. Being dehydrated and all that, I thought she probably needed some more liquid. Anyway, I went to get a drink off the store on the platform, they didn’t have the orange juice there, so like a fool, I did not think, I though she’d just stay there as she was really in just a run-down state, I thought she won’t move from there. Anyway, I put her by a certain position next to one of the big pillars, and I just said to her: “just stay here, and I’ll nip out and get you an orange drink on the place of the concourse”. Anyway, when I got back she had gone. I frantically had a quick look round, I even held up one train while I went through because I thought she might have got on… so I told the guard, let me have a quick look, I’ve lost my wife. He just laughed and said to me “be quick, we should’ve left a minute ago”. Anyway, I had a quick look through the train, she wasn’t on that, and there was one train that was nearby that was leaving… Then I thought, well I better go and report her missing again. So I went to the nearest police on the station, and reported her missing. They looked at the surveillance cameras and eventually saw her on the platform going out towards Liverpool way. So they sort of alerted people along the station route, and she was found at Liverpool. It didn’t take long once they knew which way she had gone but it seemed like a lifetime you know. The police asked me what I’d like to do, and I said for them to keep her there, and I’d pick her up. In the meantime, I contacted my daughter Patricia because I knew she was going to be home at that time. When I told her what had happened she said, “well stay at Liverpool, and I’ll come and pick you up”, to save me coming back all the way on the train. And that is what she did- she got to Liverpool with the car from Thirroul, within ten minutes of me getting there from Central station.

Katina Michael: Mr Lea, you mentioned that Freda wore the MediTrac necklace.

Kenneth Lea: Yes.

Katina Michael: Do you know what technology that was based on?

Kenneth Lea: The FM radio band.

Katina Michael: And did Freda ever object to wearing it?

Kenneth Lea: Only for about the first week, she used to try to get it off but they’ve got a pretty good clasp on them. She couldn’t tear it off but she used to force it over her head. But after a few stern words, chatting to her, trying to explain to her what it was for she just sort of accepted it, and just wore it constantly. It was shower-proof, and of course there was no reason at all to ever take it off.

Katina Michael: Why do you think some dementia sufferers want to take it off? Why is there a reaction to remove the necklace or bracelet (figure 4)?

Kenneth Lea: I think, particularly with females, I think it is just that they don’t like anything on their neck. You see for males, the other form is as a belt. Although it is better than nothing, as far as I am concerned, anything on the FM band is a waste of time in a built up area. They can be found with the equipment that the police carry in a very short space of time. And if they think you’ve lost it in the bush, they can put a helicopter up and trace you within 30 kilometers of it. Well, fair enough, if it is in the right sort of environment, it is probably true. But I feel, that if you go into a built-up area where the FM signal would be very weak, because it would be on a pendant and it would depend upon the state of the battery and that sort of thing, I feel it wouldn’t be much good unless we’re almost on top of the person. As you know, tall buildings and things like that, affect the FM band. It’s not so bad nowadays, but in the early days, it used to be that if you drove passed a big building, it would cut out. So I never had any real faith in it, but I utilized it because as far as I was concerned it was better than nothing.

Katina Michael: If there were other types of technologies on the market, for example, watches that had key fobs to ensure that the tracking device wouldn’t be removed by the wearer such as a GPS device? What about devices that could be implanted? What are your thoughts for wearable and implantable devices for dementia sufferers?

Kenneth Lea: Well, I feel that in the specific case of the dementia sufferers, if the carer or the person responsible for the dementia sufferer is willing, if they won’t wear a device that is removable, I feel that an implant is the only answer. Not only for the convenience of the carer but also for the subject’s safety. I’ve got great faith in the GPS system- as it is the best system of locating people over a wide area, whereas the FM band has a limited range on that pendant. GPS is global (figure 5). It would mean given the right situation, which would be no worse than the FM system, if the situation is right for the GPS, sufferers could be pinpointed within a meter or so and it would involve only sending one police car to pick them up, rather than have the whole force mobilized. Particularly in places like Sydney which is such a vast metropolis with numerous forms of transport where people with dementia could move over kilometers within a very short space of time. You’d never find them unless they were locatable by GPS.

Katina Michael: Why do you think these technologies have not entered the market yet, targeting services at dementia sufferers?

Kenneth Lea: Basically there is no commercial value in it for anybody trying to put it on the market. I don’t think the average carer could afford the sort of cost that they would be expected to pay for that sort of system.

Katina Michael: Do you believe those individuals with dementia could have lived at home had these tracking technologies been instituted?

Kenneth Lea: I feel they could, on the proviso that the carers were willing to take on that little bit of responsibility. I feel that most of them would opt for it, in as much as it would bring them back into the family environment.

Katina Michael: Could I ask you something personal now about trust. Seeing you and your wife together today, made me see how strong your relationship was and is. But it became apparent to me that you must’ve trusted one another a great deal. Can you tell me how significant the idea of “trust” is today, given Freda’s suffering? Do you think for example, that Freda trusted you when you admitted her to the dementia facility? Or trust is not a factor anymore?

Kenneth Lea: I don’t think in Freda’s case, trust comes into it. She doesn’t realize… oh, in one sense she knows. She knows she’s in a facility like that but she doesn’t realize what it’s all about. Because of her placid nature, she just accepts it.

Katina Michael: Can I ask you on a similar note, what kinds of rights to carers of dementia sufferers have in terms of 1) the responsibility to take a patient in; and 2) it’s time to go to a facility in consultation with a doctor?

Kenneth Lea: Ultimately as a carer you have the last word. If you’re prepared to live with the problems that is entirely up to you. In most cases in speaking with other carers the last thing any of them want to do is put the relative into care. In my case because of pressure from family and the advice from my doctor, I just had to accept she just needed to go into care, and the coincidence of this situation arising that the place became available at Corrimal as all the other places are in Wollongong or South of Wollongong. I felt that I had to take the opportunity whilst it was there because she was on a waiting list for 18 months to go into care. The advice from other carers was that you’ve got to get your name down on the list because there is such a long list of waiting. There is always an option to say “I don’t want the place yet” but if you do turn it down you go to the bottom of the list again. I often feel, that I was only able to get Freda into Corrimal due to my attendance at carers meetings and advice I received from ACAT representatives that attended these meetings.

Katina Michael: We talked about the carer’s rights, what kinds of rights do you think dementia sufferers have? What are their right in this instance?

Kenneth Lea: Well, it’s difficult. In Freda’s case, she’s just not aware of things around her from the point of view of her own well-being- what she should and should not be having. She just accepts everything that happens to her as it comes. So she’d be a poor subject to ask what rights has she got, as she would not know what you’re on about.

Katina Michael: On that line of thinking, could you talk about the sufferer’s need for privacy while suffering with dementia from the perspective of the surveillance technologies if instituted. And whether you think some things need to remain private still, or the fact that they are suffering with dementia, means that privacy is no longer a right. That safety is more dominant than privacy.

Kenneth Lea: This comes back to the carer, doesn’t it? If the carer feels that the need is there for this surveillance, that it would help their life, I don’t see why it should not be allowable. It needs to be considered by the carer, and in fact it needs to be emphasized preferably through the local GP (General Practitioner) or specialist that is dealing with the patient, they need to emphasize that it is a means of reducing the stress of the day-to-day happenings when they need constant care.

Katina Michael: Do you think Freda would have objected to a chip implant that could track her, even within the current Facility? If someone was to say to her, “okay Freda, we want to be able to track so you don’t get lost, and we are going to inject you with an implant, similar to that of a cat or dog”? Do you think she would undergo that procedure?

Kenneth Lea: It’s difficult to know… My own feeling on that is she probably wouldn’t object anyway because she wouldn’t be aware. She might get that little flash of memory that might cause her to rebel.

Katina Michael: What are the benefits that you could identify of tracking and monitoring devices, beyond the basic MediTrac system that is available today? For example, say the GPS units in the form of a watch. What are some of the benefits that you could list for all stakeholders involved?

Kenneth Lea: From the point of view of the carer, it would be a big stress reliever. If the person went missing, if we could in the ideal situation, get on the phone to a central location say in Sydney, it would be great. I feel it should be the police in charge as they have the existing facilities to carry this sort of thing out. If there was a central point that you could call up and say well “so and so is missing with a certain number and whatever, could you find out where she is”, then they could straight away track her and if necessary ask you if you are going to pick her up. It would only take one police car. That is opposed to when you report them missing, you alert the whole police force. It all goes out onto the police network. And you see all this on the television shows. I really feel that it is something that the police ought to be involved in, in as much that the facilities are already there. And it would save the police a heck of a lot of work, in an ideal situation. Obviously there would be situations that it didn’t quite work out like that, at the same time, I feel in most cases it would.

Katina Michael: Any other benefits you could identify for the carer or dementia sufferer?

Kenneth Lea: From the carer’s perspective the one big saving thing is the removal of most of the stress. It’s only when they actually go missing you get that sort of stress, and if you can’t turn to somebody that can tell you where she is, it becomes intense. Whereas I feel if you are phoning in to tell somebody that someone is missing, at least you are doing something positive, and hopefully it would resolve itself much quicker than past experience.

Katina Michael: Mr Lea could you describe the ideal tracking system?

Kenneth Lea: As we’ve talked about previously, as far as I’m concerned, the GPS system is the ideal solution in as much as it is as good as anything else, like the MediTrac that is on the market. It sort of exceeds that performance. I don’t think there are any real disadvantages to it, apart from the fact that it has a limited battery life compared to the 4 months of the MediTrac. So ideally, if it was based on something that could be switched on remotely via a mobile phone network then the battery could operate a lot longer, say for between 4-6 hours, until the individual was located.

Katina Michael: Would you have any concerns about the location history of an individual being stored anywhere?

Kenneth Lea: Not at all. Put it this way, any organization that is involved in helping to find people, it’s all of a benefit. There’s nothing detrimental that I can see in that aspect of it.

Katina Michael: And would you consider using the same system? For instance, if authorities wanted to find you and your wife simultaneously if you were out n’ bout? Would you adopt the same system? Or you see these sorts of systems being applicable only to sufferers of dementia for instance?

Kenneth Lea: Well, if it is going to help a situation, I have no objection whatsoever because it means that I could probably be informed much quicker if she was found when I didn’t know that she was even missing.

Katina Michael: Do you envisage any obstacles or disadvantages pertaining to this technology?

Kenneth Lea: Well, the only disadvantage that I can see is the limited battery life of the device. You know, what is the real optimum performance? For instance, a product may claim to have a battery life of 6 hours, but does it fade after 4 hours, so that you’re getting a much weaker signal. I don’t know, you know more about this than I do, but this is what comes to mind.

Katina Michael: So which organizations or agencies need to be lobbied to get this type of technology to market to help people who wander away from their homes and carers?

Kenneth Lea: I think I mentioned in one of my letters to you, that I wrote to the police commissioner many moons ago and it was a complete negative reply. Unfortunately, I wrote to him when he was away on a course somewhere. And eventually, after about two or three months, I got a reply from one of his minions, and she told me no more than I already knew. In effect she said the technology was such that it needed a car battery to power it. She was referring to the tracking devices and she said there’s no other technology that exists. I don’t think they even looked at it properly. They looked it up briefly or spoke to someone briefly and I don’t think they got the full picture.

Katina Michael: So the police is one organization. Any others?

Kenneth Lea: Well, I can’t think of anybody else that would have the coverage. But one thing I feel that it could go through. I at one stage was considering approaching the local MP. So I feel that it would be a good time to approach him, to see what the police department would like to do to get this system into operation. I strongly feel that because of the nature of the problem, you know in my case, it was in Sydney, but for others it could be anywhere from the remote bush to interstate up in Queensland. In that way the global positioning system would be able to get a location fix on the individual. And the setup exists for them to deal with it quickly. The whole police force is geared to respond, more or less, instantly in anything they are asked to do. And as regards to manpower saving, I mean that night I reported Freda missing, there must’ve been 20 police at my place, when they could have been dealing with other crimes.

Katina Michael: Finally, are there any other comments you would like to make?

Kenneth Lea: The only thing that occurs to me about the whole dementia situation is the medical profession, and I am talking now about GPs. You get varying degrees of interest, but a lot of them don’t seem to be aware and educated about what dementia for the carer and the sufferer means. It is only after they get some experience with the carer and patient that they can appreciate what the whole ordeal is about.

Katina Michael: Mr Lea, thank you for your time and openness.

Kenneth Lea: Thank you, Katina.


Key Terms & Definitions

24-hr carer supervision: One who can watch over an activity or task being carried out by somebody who cannot always perform the task correctly or unaided. The carer is on hand to supervise the patient, 24hrs per day/ 7 days a week, and offer assistance if required.

Alzheimer’s Disease: A progressive organic brain disease which appears usually in middle age or old age and which results in confusion, memory failure, disorientation.

Battery Life: The estimated period during which a battery is capable of operating above a specified capacity or efficiency performance level.

Computerized Tomography Scan (CT Scan): A cross-sectional X-ray enhancement technique that greatly benefits diagnosis with high-resolution video images.

Dementia: A state of mental disorder characterized by impairment or loss of the mental powers.

GP: General Practitioner; medical doctor.

Global Positioning System (GPS): A navigational system which relies on information received from a network of satellites to provide the latitude and longitude of an object.

MedicAlert: A non profit organization, that specializes in 24hr personal emergency, medical information and identification services. The MedicAlert is worn by people who have diagnosed medical conditions, suffer severe allergies (e.g. allergic reaction to penicillin), and/or are taking medications. Form factors include: necklets, sportsband, expandaband, bracelet, and chains.

Missing Person: A person who is declared missing due to a physical or mental disability, to the degree that the person is dependent upon an agency or other individual to ensure their own safety.

MP: Member of Parliament.

Parkinson’s Disease: Belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. It occurs when certain neurons which produce dopamine become impaired, or die. The loss of dopamine subsequently causes the nerve cells to fire out of control, leaving patients unable to direct their movement in a normal manner. The disease is both chronic and progressive, with early symptoms being subtle and occurring gradually.

Trust: Reliance and confidence in the integrity, justice, etc., of a person, or on some quality or attribute of a thing.

Wander: To roam or stray without any certain course or object in view.