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John Quinn and Glenys Petrie. Photo: Lisa White, www.thesocialphotographer.com.au

Dementia advocate talks masculinity, sense of self after diagnosis

“I felt ashamed that I could no longer provide for my family.”

A dementia advocate has shared with conference attendees his experience with a diagnosis of younger onset dementia and its impact on his sense of masculinity.

Presenting on the topic at HammondCare’s International Dementia Conference in Sydney, former Brisbane school principal John Quinn said some of the biggest challenges included loss of autonomy, leaving a lot of the decision-making in life to his care partner, Glenys Petrie, and relinquishing his driver’s licence.

Quinn worked for 35 years as an educator and school administrator, but said his sense of identity was altered after his diagnosis in 2010 at the age of 59.

“Being in a position of authority and then having no job had a big impact on me,” he said.

Director of the HammondCare Dementia Centre Associate Professor Colm Cunningham said it was extremely important to hear directly from people living with dementia. “John’s work is so important as the narrative of stories and direct experiences of those living with dementia enrich our understanding and inform our role in supporting people with dementia and their carers.”

Aged Care Insite spoke with Quinn to find out more about his thoughts following his diagnosis of younger onset dementia, how he reframed his sense of masculinity and his conversations with other people who shared his experience.

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