The diagnosis of Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease that I received in July 2019 at the age of 59, had a profound and devastating impact on me. As I started to lose confidence in myself, I became increasingly socially disconnected and withdrew myself from any involvement in the wider community. Quite simply, a ‘darkness had surrounded me’, where not only did I feel sorry for myself, but with an uncertain future, life now had little if any meaning for me. However, this shallow perspective changed after a chance trip to Japan to watch the Rugby World Cup in September 2019 with a group of mates.
This abstract describes how my decision to return as a volunteer surf lifesaver in September 2020 became the catalyst for challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone, face my fears and start competing in master’s Swimming and Surf Lifesaving at a local, state and national level. Having now recently achieved this goal, I am now planning to compete in my first international event later this year.
For me, this journey has never been about a podium finish. Rather, I want to inspire others who are also living with dementia, that it is still possible to live a life that you value, provided you have the support of others, confidence in yourself, the motivation to never give up and perhaps most importantly, you need to remain positive in your outlook on life.
William Yeates was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in 2019 at the age of 59. He shares his experience competing in swimming and surf lifesaving, and finding a new perspective on life along the way.