Lyle Anderson and his brother watched their father fade away after a Dementia diagnosis which left Lyle feeling like a “bad son” now he wants to educate others to help them avoid this feeling.
Johannesburg, South Africa – In August last year, Lyle Anderson and his brother lost their father to dementia at the young age of 65. Lyle said it was a tough ending to his life and that he went pretty fast. The loss of his father hit Lyle hard as he didn’t take as many opportunities to see his dad.
“He lived on my brother’s farm in the Natal Midlands at the end and I was up in Joburg. I went to visit a few times and I kept thinking there’s plenty time to go see him, so it was always next week I’ll go see him and then the worst happened, he passed away. I was devastated and very angry with myself for not using the time I had left with him better.
So this got me thinking that I needed to do something to firstly make up for being a “bad son” and then to try to avoid this from happening to others like me. So my brother and I came up with something crazy.”
Lyle and his brother Struan Anderson have decided to honour their father by raising awareness. To do so, they are cycling from the Beit Bridge Border, by Zimbabwe to Cape Town. This trip is not a first for the family, Jonathan, their late father, made a very similar trip when he was seventeen.
“So this is what we thought would be the best way to honour our Dad and then use a similar ride to bring awareness around this horrible disease dementia. Awareness in the form of teaching people the early signs and allowing them to have the affected person diagnosed at an early stage. This, then allows the affected person to be part of the conversation about their future and not a burden on the family members who will be caring for them. It will also teach the affected family members the importance of the time they have left before the mind goes, not making the mistake I did.”
Their trip will be a total of 2200km spread over 14 days. They plan to leave on the 26th of August and arrive in Cape Town on the 8th of September 2019. Lyle told us that while many sporty men could easily do this trek within the allotted time, he has not been on a bicycle since primary school and carried a fair amount of weight. With the training for the trek, Lyle has taken his health into consideration.
“Myself and brother are being joined by 2 friends Simon Clayton and Gareth Myles.
It may be important to note that I had last ridden a bicycle when I was in primary school and was weighing 99.9kg’s at the time of making this decision. Since then I have lost 20kg’s from all the training, and can ride 95km in 3h20! So not only am I going to help others, I am doing so much for my own health, so well done Dad haha!”
The guys will be raising money to train caregivers working with Alzheimer’s SA.
“We have partnered with Alzheimer’s SA and they train nurses and caregivers in rural towns where they are badly needed. It costs R2500 per caregivers training and in small towns if you get dementia and it’s not spotted the community often beats that person because they believe they have an evil spirit, so it’s a worthy cause!”
You can follow their journey on Facebook as well as on Instagram, where they will also be sharing practical tips about dealing with Dementia. They hope their message will spread far and wide, helping other families cope with the drastically life-changing Dementia diagnosis.