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Early onset dementia sufferer receives much needed payouts to help with costs

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The Mill Park family of a 39-year-old woman battling the later stages of dementia has been awarded a six-figure sum in Superannuation Total and Permanent Disability insurance payments to help pay for her full-time care.

Not more than eight years ago, Sarah Brady was an energetic and bright young woman who enjoyed a career in procurement, playing sport and socialising with friends.

Her mother Lyn said that in 2012, Sarah moved to Perth for work but shortly after lost her job, prompting her return to Melbourne where she continued to have trouble maintaining employment.

“I started noticing little bits and pieces, we knew something wasn’t right,” Mrs Brady said. “One day she drove me to an appointment and on the way she wet herself and was cutting cars off the road – we had to take her keys off her.”

By 2013, basic tasks such as memory retention, using a knife and fork, speech and sense of direction had become major challenges. The family noticed she had become much quieter at this time, prompting a doctor’s misdiagnosis of depression.

Sarah was finally diagnosed with dementia in September 2014 at the age of 37 and was given no more than six years by doctors. She now lives at aged care home The Boulevard in Mill Park, where she receives round-the-clock care.

Mrs Brady said it has been an extremely difficult process for the family watching their eldest child – the family includes four children and two foster children - gradually deteriorate in recent years.

“She used to be so energetic, she played netball, she went out with her friends, she was just a fun-loving girl,” Mrs Brady said. “Just 12 months ago she was talking and now she has trouble swallowing, it’s been very stressful. People need to be aware that this can happen.”

Mrs Brady said the financial costs of supporting Sarah had been overwhelming but after receiving the money, the family can just focus on enjoying as much time with her as possible.

“We’re trying to do whatever we can do to help her,’’ Mrs Brady said. “We are trying to make memories with her and we want her to have the best quality of life for the time she has left.”

Slater and Gordon Associate Tristan Nathanielsz said the money had been awarded from four funds including REST, CBUS, Australian Super and AMP.

Mr Nathanielsz said the case was complicated by the fact that Sarah’s employment and medical history –normally provided from memory – needed to be collected from documents obtained from family recollections.

“Families in similar situations need to be aware that they are entitled to make claims through superannuation funds to help compensate for lack of earnings and medical costs,’ Mr Nathanielsz said.