THE further Nick Locandro gets into preparations for his 2000-kilometre ride, the more important his focus is becoming on raising awareness for younger onset dementia.
A Ride to Remember, a ambitious 14-day ride from Uluru to Ballarat, took shape as a way to honour his dad Sam who died with dementia last year and to find some closure in helping out Ballarat respite centre Eyre House, which offered great memories for his family.
Four weeks out from setting off, Locandro is increasingly learning all the new ways people can make a difference to challenge the community’s mindset on dementia.
He said support from Ballarat businesses, like Europa Cafe and The Western Hotel, in encouraging staff to officially become dementia-friendly or Stockland Wendouree’s new low-sensory quiet room were great initiatives to help people living with dementia stay connected.
“Small stuff like that is slowing starting to change things,” Locandro said. “If someone comes into a cafe, it’s about being patient, mindful and showing consideration – these are basics you hope everyone treats each other with.”
Locandro has also been working with Ballarat Health Services on potential projects to help promote independence and self-worth among people living with dementia, particularly those with the younger onset who may not be as suited to traditional elderly dementia care.
Locandro’s dad battled an aggressive form of the disease. He was an active man when he developed the disease at 54 years old. Locandro said the family’s support network shrunk. People found it hard to know what to do or say. He wants to help change this for others.
Uluru is where the family last had a holiday together.
Cycling is important to Locandro who rode in his first Cycling Australia National Road Series elite men’s road race in Buninyong in January – one year on from his dad watching him take on the gran fondo on the same course.
Locandro has since earned a spot on Anchor Point South Coast cycling team for the National Road Series, which has kept him in good form for the challenge ahead.
Triathlete Jamie Huggett and fellow Ballarat-Sebastopol cyclist Jarrod King will join Locandro on the ride from Uluru on September 3.
Locandro said it was really special for their mission to have been noticed and supported by Young Dementia UK via social media.
Follow their journey on Facebook page, A Ride to Remember – Uluru to Ballarat.
For more details, look for A Ride to Remember on mycause.com.au.