Heartfelt letter from a son who's father is suffering from dementia

Must See 30/10/2018

A bright young boy has shared a heartfelt message to his father who was diagnosed with young-onset dementia, a form of Alzheimer's, late last year.

Eleven-year-old Jacob wants his dad, Pete James, to know that he will be there for him no matter what, as the brain disorder affects the 60-year-old's ability to do everyday tasks.

"Yes he forgets things, but he's still my Dad," Jacob said. "It's not going to change the way I talk to him, or the way he talks to me."

Jacob, Pete and wife Cathy live on the outskirts of Sydney. The family works together each day to be there for Pete. 

"We've been together for 33 years. When I see him walk in a room I still get butterflies," Cathy said.

The family noticed something was wrong three years ago when the draftsman's memory was waning and he struggled to understand what was going on.

"We knew it was coming," Cathy explained.

Pete remains optimistic as he pushes through new challenges.

"All the stuff I used to be able to do without thinking, now I've got to get help," he said.

"Keep smiling, it's about all you can do."

As Pete learns to cope, Jacob has stepped up to help. He makes himself useful around the home with chores like preparing lunches for his dad, who is still able to work thanks to an understanding employer.

ABC News

The flame-haired youngster put together a touching letter for his father, explaining that he will be there for him as they confront the symptoms of his illness.

"I know I tell you every day how much I love you and how much you mean to me," he wrote for ABC Life.

"But today I want to say an extra big thank you for all that you have taught me and are still teaching me as we take each day one step at a time.

"Dad, thank you for making me me, for the love of music we share, which means so much more to me now as it's our special time to chill and just hang out together.

"I love the time we have at the park kicking to each other, and of course your horrible dad jokes that always makes me laugh watching you laugh at your own joke.

"Dad, I'm watching you change daily and seeing you so upset, upsets me too. I always promise to give you lots of big hugs anytime you need one and to let you know I'm there for you.

"Our roles are now just swapping sooner than we thought. But I'm here to help you now be your rock, like you have been to me. You are teaching me to have patience, understanding, and a good sense of humour. I love seeing you smile.

"I'm learning, Dad, that no matter how many times you may ask me the same question, I will always keep giving you the same answer and not say 'I've told you that'. Please know you never have to say sorry to me as there is nothing to say sorry for.

"You can do anything just in your own way now, and that's okay with me. When I'm with you nothing else matters.

"I love you, Dad."



Dementia is one of New Zealand's most significant and growing healthcare challenges.

There are currently around 70,000 people with dementia in New Zealand, which is forecast to triple to 170,000 by 2050.

The most common form is Alzheimer's disease, which affects two-thirds of people with dementia.

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of diseases that affect how the brain works.

It can affect anyone, but as people get older the chances of developing dementia increase.