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Richard Grimmett’s Young Onset Story

At the time, he was working as a funeral director in Ocean Grove.

Given that Richard’s father, uncle and brother had previously been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he and his wife Heather were able to spot the symptoms early. Since Parkinson’s was already familiar to them, they found some degree of comfort in knowing that Parkinson’s wasn’t a death sentence and it was possible to continue living a full and active life. But equally, they understood what lay ahead.

Richard was certain that he had Parkinson’s and took the proactive steps to get an official diagnosis. However, this process proved to be more difficult than expected when his GP was hesitant to refer him to a neurologist.

The GP was concerned that dealing with medication and its side effects could be worse than his symptoms at the time. He recalls being asked, “Do you really want to know if you’ve got Parkinson’s?”

Richard sat on this question for a while, but he eventually decided that medication and treatment would be the best way forward to ensure his ongoing quality of life.

For the first five years of living with Parkinson’s, he was able to carry on with work and life as usual. Understanding that Parkinson’s is a progressive condition, Richard and Heather made a conscious decision. They would go on all the overseas trips they had always dreamt of going on before his symptoms began impacting daily life. Both Richard and Heather strongly believe in living life to the fullest and not putting off the things you want to do.

At 60, Richard Grimmett refuses to let Parkinson’s dampen his positivity and love of life. Around the age of 47, he began noticing the subtle signs of Parkinson’s beginning to surface. His arms stopped swinging, he would struggle to get cards out of his wallet and his sense of smell and memory were being affected.

One year into his Parkinson’s diagnosis, his adventurous spirit led him to embark on a solo hike along the Great Ocean Walk. He documented his experience through photos and diary entries, which he later turned into a book titled “Great Ocean Walk with Parkinson’s Disease: Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles in Eight Days.”

In the book, he recounts his adventures, which include encounters with wild creatures and friendly people he met along the way. Passages include personal reflections, poems and words of wisdom. His book isn’t just a travel diary but an ode to reconnecting with nature and the human spirit.

He shares his optimistic approach to life, reminding readers that “With courage and determination, every hill can be climbed”.

The people in Richard’s life know him as someone who faces adversity with a positive and proactive attitude. Being a community-minded person, he became actively involved in the Parkinson’s community and is passionate about raising awareness and funds for improved treatments and support for people living with Parkinson’s and related conditions.

Along with running various events and fundraisers, he hosted a radio show on a network broadcasted for and by the international Parkinson’s community, using his love for music to connect and empower people.

Seven years ago, Richard underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), which had helped a lot with his movement. Over time, his fatigue and cognitive symptoms became too significant and he had to make the tough decision to sell his business and eventually medically retire.

Despite having to constantly adapt to new symptoms and realities, resilience and positivity have defined Richard’s approach to living with Parkinson’s. He chooses to find happiness and joy in the small things and wants to inspire others to seize the day.

Richard and Heather are incredibly grateful for the love and support of family, friends and their community. They are excited to welcome their first grandchild in June and look forward to the next chapter of their lives together.

We express our gratitude to Richard and Heather for sharing their story. If you are interested in reading “Great Ocean Walk with Parkinson’s Disease: Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles in Eight Days,” you can download it here.

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