By Jessica Howard
It was only three years ago that Mark McDonald’s grandmother Mena was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The 83-year-old’s memory is slowly deteriorating; however, her grandson’s often overgrown beard is something that she hasn’t forgotten.
“Every time I would visit my grandmother she would tell me to ‘have a shave’,” Mr McDonald said.
However, on Tuesday October 31, the beard will go as part of a fundraiser for Dementia Australia.
Mr McDonald will have a cut-throat shave and hair cut at Yo Barber in Bacchus Marsh to help raise funds for the nation-wide charity.
“The more money we can raise for research the better the chance will be of finding a cure or at least tracking a diagnosis earlier and therefore slowing the disease in its tracks,” Mr McDonald said.
“My grandmother has two children, six grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren that she is very proud of, but unfortunately now has very poor memories of.
“It is just terrible to see anyone that has so many memories to just lose them all. She has also lost the ability to do some day-to-day tasks, it is very difficult”.
Mr McDonald has been growing his beard for around 10-months. He said although he will be sad to see it go, the cause was well worth it.
“I went and spoke with my grandmother on Monday night and she said to me, ‘are you going to shave that thing off?’, and that really put a smile on my face because that’s the whole reason I’m doing this.
“When I think about the time I’ve put in to maintaining the beard it feels like it should be a hard decision to get rid of it but I keep thinking back to why I’m doing it and that’s not a hard decision at all”.
Mr McDonald’s hair and beard will get the chop at 4pm on Tuesday.
Rachel Middlebrook, owner of Yo Barber, said the event will be live video-recorded and posted to Facebook.
Mr McDonald’s grandmother, Mena will be there on the day.
“Hopefully we can raise some money, but also awareness,” Mr McDonald said.
“Dementia and Alzheimer’s not only affects the person diagnosed but everyone around them. I think a lot of people think that forgetting things is a result of old age, but that is not always the case.
“If people can become more aware and potentially go to the doctor’s sooner, they can have an earlier diagnosis, making their quality of life a lot better”.