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Living with early onset dementia – Juanita’s story

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Juanita Hughes, 55,  is a strong advocate for early onset dementia, following her diagnosis with the disease at 53 years of age.

Yesterday (Thursday, July 15, 2021) she shared her inspiring story with ABC Radio Brisbane, on the ‘Mornings with Rebecca Levingston’ show.

Throughout her life, Juanita has experienced the loss of her grandfather, an aunt and two uncles to the devastating disease. Given her father is also living with dementia, she knew there was a strong chance she too, would develop the disease.

The first symptom Juanita noticed was being easily distracted.

“I’d buy vegetables to make soup, but they would go off before I would get around to making it, because I was distracted,” Juanita told ABC Radio Brisbane.

By the time Juanita received a formal diagnosis, the biggest emotion she felt was relief, knowing that her doctor actually believed her.

“By that stage, I had the best part of two years to work through the symptoms. If it wasn’t dementia, I wanted to know what was going on with my brain.

“When I started to notice the symptoms that I had seen in my family in myself, that was hard. I had to give up my thoughts of having a long life and the thoughts I had of my future,” said Juanita.

By sharing her story, Juanita hopes to leave a legacy for others living the disease. Because she was diagnosed early, and still has a voice, Juanita is wishing to advocate for those who have lost theirs.

Juanita told ABC Radio Brisbane, “We want to have people living in the community, being able to be involved in the community, as long as possible”.

To listen to Juanita’s full story on ABC Radio Brisbane, head to:


For more information about dementia, check out our dementia resources here:





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