Mario and My Dad - Caring for People with Early Onset Dementia

Mario and My Dad - Caring for People with Early Onset Dementia

Sep 19 , 2022


Julie-Anne Dietz

5 - 7 minute read

Including My 5 tips on how you can assist your loved one.

I have never met Mario Fenech, and I don’t support South Sydney, nor did I support the North Sydney Bears, or the South Queensland Crushers for that matter. I see that he played 11 games for the start-up and end-up club back in 1995. My husband tells me he has a signed South Queensland Crushers jersey from back then, but that is a story for another day (perhaps😊).

From what I can gather he seems like a ‘salt of the earth’ person, with a capacity not to take himself too seriously, a passionate man of Maltese extraction and a fine fearless footballer.

The problem is, all is not well with Mario and he knows it, so does his family and now thanks to a wonderfully produced story last night on Channel 7’s Spotlight programme so does the rest of the world.


Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

This fearless football warrior has just turned 60 years old and been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the result of repeated brain injury. This has given Mario early onset dementia. According to the stats this is ‘early’ as only 5% of the population are diagnosed with dementia in the early 60s and 10% in their early 70s.

I found this a hard watch, not just because of the obvious memory decline of one of Rugby League’s favourite sons of the 1980s and 90s, but because my dad too has only this year been diagnosed with dementia. He is approaching his mid-80s and has diabetes, so whilst still not totally unexpected the diagnosis is still confronting.

I sincerely felt for Mario’s wife Rebecca who is also now his carer, and even has had to take up another job as a carer to other people with disabilities to help pay the bills. Sadly, due to his condition Mario let his insurance slip which means that finances are tight. There was a mention of NDIS funding that assists Mario’s day support and activity, but no where near covers the costs now associated with Mario’s case.

How long before Mario needs full time support where more costs will kick in?

As my mother says any of us are just one major accident away from major brain trauma so this is a topic that should be close to us all.


My 5 Tips on how you can assist?

Our family are pretty much learning on the job, so to speak, when it comes to supporting my father, just as Rebecca seems to be when caring for Mario. Some of these 5 tips were highlighted in last night's story the others we have created intuitively.

  1. Memory Book – we have created a memory book with family pictures, family tree and life events. Mario’s son recently got married and the wedding album is used in a similar way to remind Mario of the day.
  2. Daily Calendar – we have created a daily calendar of normal daily activities to attempt to keep my father in a routine. This seems to work quite well, as it does for Mario.
  3. One on One Outings – my father doesn’t like to go out much but given the right circumstances we know this is good for him and for the respite it gives my mother. We have worked with dad and Carers Queensland to find the best - carer to participant - personality match and now my father seems to look forward to his outings. Mario gets picked up and taken to what was called - a day care for people with dementia - each week. This appears to be the same destination each time which he appears to enjoy. There is something to be said for maintaining a social network for people suffering dementia.
  4. Nurse support – where possible taking tasks off my mother’s plate is important. To assist us to manage my father’s diabetes a nurse comes in to give him his insulin injections and check his sugars. Given this is an essential management task we take comfort in knowing dad is looked after by a professional.
  5. Family Events – whenever possible we keep dad very involved in all family events and occasions. We find this assists to keep things, as normal as possible, and if and when, he repeats a story or a question we act as though it is the first time that we have heard it.


Rebecca Fenech wants Mario’s story told. She wants further work done understanding head trauma in NRL football. Doctors are investigating a blood test with the capacity to determine the impact of concussions in footballers within a short time frame of the trauma taking place. This will assist in the diagnosis of the rest and recovery time a player needs for their brains to repair until they can be allowed to play again. If they get this bit correct they can individualise treatments and reduce the longer-term affect and likelihood of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

If you get the chance to take a look at the story on Mario take it. You can find a more on it here

7NEWS Spotlight: Mario Fenech forgot his own son’s wedding - and a ‘silent, lonely killer’ is to blame | 7NEWS


5 Products that work well

Here are a selection of products that seem to assist my father which I want to share with you. Click on the product title to go straight to the product in this site.

  1. Dawn Clocks - The Original Award -winning Dawn Clock ™ The calendar and reminder clock enabling self-care and a meaningful life! The Dawn Clock™ is the original LED calendar day clock that has specially designed on-screen alerts to enable independence in completing daily tasks.  Pre-Order now for October! The Original Award -winning Dawn Clock ™ - Live your Best Life! Pre-Or – disAbility equip online


  1. Assistive Bedding Set Fitted Sheets and Pillow Cases with Corner ID Labels To STAY INDEPENDENT Make your own bed! Like no other sheets and pillow cases you've ever known... thanks to TLC - The Lads Collective. Braille Assistive Bedding Set Fitted Sheets and Pillow Cases with Corn – disAbility equip online


  1. Amplified Phone with 6 Memory Pictures - Oricom Care80 -  Best Phone for Seniors and those with Dementia! This user-friendly corded phone has 6 large one-touch picture memory buttons.   No need to remember phone numbers with Oricom’s unique picture button dialling. Best phone for seniorsAmplified Phone with 6 Memory Pictures - Oricom Care80 – disAbility equip online


  1. 4-IN-1 Aroma Diffuser, Humidifier, Night Light & Speaker - for sensory overload - Be soothed back to sleep relaxing music, audiobooks, or soothing songs through the built-in high-quality speakers of the 4-IN-1 Aroma Diffuser, Humidifier, Night Light & Speaker - for sensory overload. Download the Hubble Connected App to play soothing sounds, songs and audiobooks. Also works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Google Play & the Apple Store


  1. Wall Mounted Sensory LED Bubble Wall Water Feature - This striking high-end Water Feature with stainless steel Base and Top Cover is the newest in our range featuring colour-changing LED lights and makes a spellbinding addition to any home, bedroom or sensory zone. We’ve added fish for an extra calming effect.



As is usual please reach out for a chat by either calling us on 1300 946 745 or email we’d be only too happy to assist wherever we can.


Live Your Best Life!



Founder and Owner DEO

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