For most of us, Mother’s day will be spent spoiling our mums with gifts, breakfast in bed and spending time enjoying each other’s company.
But for Neighbours star, Takaya Honda and his mum, Rhonda, the reality is very different.
“Mum is in the later stage of younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease,” Takaya said in an exclusive chat with Be.
“She’s not bed bound, but she needs help being fed, bathed and going to the bathroom.
“She’s in that toddler stage which is sort of how I’ve described the last few years, but most of her verbal communication is gone.”
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“Every now and then she’ll say bits and pieces, but it’s never more than a few words.”
Currently, Rhonda, 60, lives in a full-time care facility in Brisbane and since Takaya’s work has him in Melbourne, he won’t be able to make it up to see her on Sunday (Mother’s Day).
“Luckily we live in a time where we can Skype or FaceTime,” Takaya said. “On any of those types of days, it makes it so much easier.
“It’s hard to tell if she knows that I am there or if she even knows it’s me,” he said. “But at least I get to talk to her.”
The 30-year-old actor, who plays David on the hit Aussie soap, admitted that it is easier when Rhonda is unaware that she is unwell.
After seeing her own mother deteriorate with the disease, Rhonda gets frustrated, agitated and upset.
“I just hate it,” he said. “We’re just not built to deal with that situation – to know that we are disappearing.”
It’s a constant battle day-to-day for Takaya, his father Kaz and brother, Koji.
“It’s just a constant grieving in a way,” Takaya said.
“It’s kind of worse than someone who has been given a terminal diagnosis, because the person you know and the relationship you have with them disappears and literally changes into something else.
“There’s a lot of guilt associated with that. How you feel about it. How you feel about them,” he continued.
“But your relationship has to change because you have to take them to the bathroom, and they’re crying, but you have to help them, but it’s such a difficult thing to deal with.”
Takaya is the Victorian Ambassador for Dementia Australia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia. It is the second biggest killer in Australia.
It is thought of as an old person’s disease, however, one in 13 sufferers are aged between 30 and 50.
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