'Live, love, laugh in limbo-land'

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 05:00 17/07/2014
Warren Portsmouth
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Warren Portsmouth, 61, was diagnosed with dementia four years ago and will sell lamingtons to raise money for Alzheimers Auckland.

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"One day everyone will be a stranger."

The words of Warren Portsmouth's doctor left him "shattered".

The 61-year-old was diagnosed with Alzheimers at the age of 57 and says coming to terms with the illness was initially hard.

"My daughter Alana was with me and the thought that one day I wouldn't recognise her really killed hope," he says.

But Portsmouth, who moved to Massey's Royal Heights Rest Home in 2012, is now learning to accept living with dementia.

"It's been a rollercoaster ride of grief, emotions and clawing my way back," he says.

His life motto has become "live, love and laugh in limbo-land" and he tries to look for the good while ignoring the bad.

"The vital element is that I chose to live and I've regained hope."

Portsmouth has no family history of dementia but noticed its onset after struggling with simple tasks that were once so familiar.

"When I discovered I may have Alzheimers I was working in a telecommunications call centre in Sydney.

"I started going through the wrong doors, had trouble logging into my computer and would stare blankly at the screen working out what programs to open."

The father of two is now working hard to keep his mind and body active to postpone the effects and uses exercise and puzzles to keep him grounded in the "real world".

He says the advice and support from Alzheimers Auckland has been invaluable and encourages other families struggling to come to terms with living with the illness to not give up hope.

"Look for new ways of living, make life simpler and do what makes you happy.

"Having Alzheimers doesn't mark the end.

"Treat it as a new beginning and it will become a journey of adventure, not despair," he says.

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