The Wheeler Centre
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Dementia and Optimism: Christine Bryden and Paul Bryden
Christine Bryden was a science advisor to the prime minister and a divorced mother of three when she went to see a doctor about the severe migraines she was suffering. Shortly after, at the age of 46, she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia.
That was in 1995. Two decades since her diagnosis, Bryden has written several books, been elected to the board of Alzheimer’s Disease International, travelled the world as an advocate in the Alzheimer’s movement and even remarried.
The progress of Bryden’s condition has been remarkably slow, allowing her to describe the day-to-day experience of dementia to professionals, policy-makers, carers and other people living with the condition. Her successful efforts to retain as much cognitive function as possible give credence to the idea of neuroplasticity and the possibility that the brain can rewire itself.
Bryden discusses her latest book – Before I Forget, a memoir detailing her early life, her diagnosis and her advocacy work – as well as her tips for retaining brain function. She's joined by her husband, Paul Bryden, in conversation with Natasha Mitchell.
For most of her adult life, Christine had a brilliant career as a biochemist, working in the pharmaceutical industry in the UK, for the CSIRO in Australia and then as a senior executive in the Australian public service, providing advice to the prime minister on science and technology.
In 1995 she was diagnosed with younger-onset dementia at the age of 46, and since then has become a passionate advocate for people with dementia, addressing conferences around the world and appearing in the media. Her books have been published in several languages, and in 2003 she became the first person with dementia to be elected to the board of Alzheimer's Disease International.
Natasha Mitchell is a multi-award winning journalist, presenter and podcaster with the ABC, presenting flagship national programs including Life Matters (2012-2016), founder of the popular show All in the Mind (2002-12), and now a new science, culture and storytelling program, Science Friction on ABC Radio National.