It's the last thing you would expect to hear at age 59 - "you've got dementia!" – 96five Family Radio

It’s the last thing you would expect to hear at age 59 – “you’ve got dementia!”

By Christie MannFriday 18 Aug 201796five Afternoons

But it’s exactly what Greg Kelly was told.

But rather than give into the debilitating condition that affects more than 400-thousand Australians, for the next year Greg is riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle around Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

He began his epic journey last weekend from Nerang and spoke with 96five’s Arthur Muhl.

Diagnosed with a rarer form of dementia known as Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) at just 59, Greg, an ex-Financial Services Executive, is one of 25,000 Australians living with younger onset dementia under the age of 65.

The diagnosis came as a big shock to Greg and his family, but his determination to never give-up will see him take to his motorbike to raise funds and awareness, for everyone living with this condition.

early onset dementia, age 59, greg kelly, arthur muhl

He recently launched his big ride, “Kell’s Ride for The Future”, at Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld)’s A Night of Stars Gala in Brisbane, which raised over $25K to fund ongoing dementia support services around the state.

“In my previous life, I was a high achieving individual, working in the financial sector and doing a lot of public speaking for some of the largest organisations in Australia,” said Greg.

“This FTD diagnosis is no small thing, there is no cure and I’ve been told that my life expectancy could be anywhere from 2-10 years.”

In addition to the progressive disabilities associated with FTD, being diagnosed as a younger person has significant personal and financial challenges for the entire family. Being younger also makes it harder to access suitable support and care services that may be needed in the future.

However  Greg says “I am not taking this lying down…Dementia may be trying to disrupt his hopes and dreams for retirement, seeing his kids/grandkids grow and growing old with Janet & his Mates, but whilst he still can, Greg says; “I will fight this disease with my remaining skills and experience. I’m determined to shine a light on FTD and young onset dementia and what better way than to indulge my passions for riding and to tick of some of my bucket list items on the way.”

 Along his journey, Greg will be assisted by Janet, his children and a support team vehicle and Friend (Paul).

Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. AS the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and information. 

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500

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