Speaker: Kate Swaffer, My Unseen Disappearing World: Using WordPress to Capture Memories

Kate Swaffer

Kate Swaffer

We received dozens of excellent speaker applications for WordCamp Gold Coast, and Kate’s application really stood out.

Her proposed title captured my attention, but it was only after I read the description that I realised what the title was alluding too and just how inspiring her story is.

Kate was diagnosed with a rare younger onset dementia when she was 49. At WordCamp Gold Coast, Kate will share her personal story of living with dementia and how she uses it as motivation to live a fuller life.

Since being diagnosed, Kate has begun to use WordPress in a truly unique way – to help capture her memories, and build a personal history file, by way of words and stories embodying her feelings and emotions.

Kate volunteers as an advocate for people with dementia and through her role, one thing Kate encourages is for others to use blogs to share their life stories. Kate also strives to break down the barriers and stigma around dementia through her presentations.

I asked Kate a few questions to learn more about what it takes to get up stage and share such a personal story.

I’m personally inspired by the courage it must take for you to do public presentations on such a personal topic. Why did you decide to do these presentations?

The presentations began when a request was made to Alzheimer’s Australia (SA) from a service provider for someone to speak to their staff about the impact of living with dementia.

I was asked, and as I had been writing about it since diagnosis, and had previously been published, I felt compelled to accept the invitation. The response was strong and positive, and I was asked again by the organisation who provides one of my personal carers.

I continue to speak out as a voice for those with dementia who can’t, and because there is a huge need for policy to change to improve our care. So far, I am having success with small but significant policy changes within service provider organisations; my next step is to work on governments!

You’ve presented on a similar topic several times in the last couple of years, how is your presentation received by audiences?

Usually with strong emotions; I do change the presentation to suit each audience, however the ‘heart’ of my story is the same, and my openness and honesty is often what people talk most about afterwards.

How has your blog been received by readers – both strangers and those closest to you?

So far, I only have official 6 subscribers on the site, but a lot of people are commenting via email, following my presentation (I am usually willing to give out my email to a service provider audience, although would think fellow bloggers will respond via the blog!).

My family and friends are responding privately by email or phone, and most have bookmarked my site. This is one friend’s email response:

“I felt very humbled by your blog and my admiration for you has increased a hundredfold. What an inspiration you are. Thank you for sharing your heart and your life with me.”

At WordCamp Gold Coast, the power of Kate’s story will inspire you.

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2 Responses to Speaker: Kate Swaffer, My Unseen Disappearing World: Using WordPress to Capture Memories

  1. Pingback: Speaker: Tim Ferguson, Running an Online Bookclub with WordPress | WordCamp Gold Coast

  2. Sina Lauren Hol says:

    Dear Kate,
    It has been many years, infact over 15 years ago that we met. Our sons both attended Montessori at Parkside. You kindly invited me to your home for a coffee. I have read your story and I am inspired by your journey. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers at the age of 65, she is now 66. She is mostly in denial but as a family we make the most of these early times with her. We have noticed she hates being alone and forever needs us to entertain her, to take her out. She seems to have lost so much of her independence. Is there anything we can do for our mother to help her feel more capable? I am eager to follow you on Facebook.
    Kind Regards Sina Lauren Hol