Letters of love and dementia

A Bigger Hearts film provides a powerful and moving insight into the lives and relationship of Ballarat couple Anne Tudor and Edie Mayhew, who is living with early onset dementia.

HEARTFELT: Edie Mayhew, second from the left, and Anne Tudor, right, shared their personal letters to each other on camera hoping to inspire others to do the same.

HEARTFELT: Edie Mayhew, second from the left, and Anne Tudor, right, shared their personal letters to each other on camera hoping to inspire others to do the same.

The couple read aloud on camera personal letters they wrote to each other, which Anne said represented a desire to cling onto the communication they’ve always cherished and shared. 

“This is a really personal story,” Anne said. “It’s quite exposing and painful because it shows what we no longer have, but sometimes the only way to get a message out there is through a story and it’s a small price to pay for changes in attitudes.”

The film Letters of Love and Dementia launched at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka on Tuesday afternoon, the second in a series of films looking to create more support and awareness for dementia.

Anne hoped the exchanging of letters on camera will help encourage others to get more in touch with their feelings and create their own meaningful exchanges – maybe even be inspired to write a letter themselves. 

Catherine Barrett from Celebrate Ageing, who was also behind the film, said the key challenge and priority when it comes to creating a dementia-friendly city is finding ways to engage the community. 

“We can go out there and tell them the national strategy is important, but we’ve got to capture people’s attention and imaginations,” she said.

“And that is one of the things about this film that is incredibly important, it’s a great way of understanding the human experience. Anne and Edie are talking about the emotions around living with dementia, and they’re inviting other people to do the same thing.”

In an opening speech, Wendouree MP Sharon Knight referred to Anne and Edie as a “spark” in the community who were helping people see the person and not the illness. 

The film was met with a strong emotional response from viewers and stimulated discussions with many lingering behind. 

Dr Barrett said she could see the project taking off internationally, with Ballarat the epicentre of support, innovation and creativity.