Sharing letters of love in dementia

HEART: Ballarat couple Edie Mayhew and Anne Tudor will open their letters of love and memories on film to promote demenita awareness. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

HEART: Ballarat couple Edie Mayhew and Anne Tudor will open their letters of love and memories on film to promote demenita awareness. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

EVERY day for a week, Ballarat couple Anne Tudor and Edie Mayhew wrote letters to each other.

They detailed memories and all the things they love about each other, their relationship and life – before and after Edie was diagnosed with early on-set dementia six years ago, aged 59.

Anne and Edie chose to open the letters on film, allowing viewers to be part of their raw emotions as they read the sentiments aloud.

They will debut the finished product Letters of Love and Dementia at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka on Tuesday afternoon.

Anne, keen to keep a little mystery about what unfolds, said it was an incredibly loving experience. Even though Edie could only write shorter letters and notes, the impact was huge.

Their aim is to celebrate the importance of love in the lives of people living with dementia. They also hope the film will prompt people to write a letter to someone they love, who is living with dementia.

For Anne and Edie, the project helped capture memories and feelings so the letters may always be a reminder of all they share.

The film release follows the launch last Thursday of a Bigger Hearts documentary, pairing key Ballarat figures from a broad cross-section of the community in one-on-one conversations with a person living with dementia.

Both films build on the Bigger Hearts project to create a dementia-friendly Ballarat. The Bigger Hearts movement lead by Anne and Edie, has helped to attract a cutting edge, national symposium exploring dementia and love, to Ballarat.

Developed for service providers, the two-day symposium will start on Valentine’s Day at the Ballarat Mechanics Institute next year. All speakers will be people living with dementia, their families, friends and carers.

“The community of Ballarat has totally taken Bigger Hearts to heart,” Edie said. “We’ve been delighted by the response to the campaign so far and we are looking forward to sharing more as we progress.”

Anne and Edie have long shared their story, travelling interstate and overseas to advocate for people living with dementia and carers and giving talks on healthy living and a positive outlook.

In promoting greater awareness, Anne and Edie aim to help break the stigma of people living with dementia.