Dementia Action Week runs from 21 – 27 September here in Australia.
Dementia affects around half a million Australians and is estimated to double within the next 25 years.
This week is about raising awareness around dementia, and better understanding the misconceptions and assumptions surrounding those living with the disease.
Dementia Australia recognises the negative impact that such misconceptions can have on those living with dementia, including discrimination in the community. Many people still believe that once a person is diagnosed with dementia they are no longer capable of independence and struggle to remain a functioning member of society.
Dementia Action Week is an important opportunity to educate Australians on what the functionality of someone living with dementia can be, and the importance of providing the right support and resources to ensure they can live fulfilling lives.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella description of several illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body disease. Dementia can hit both women and men at any age but is the most common after the age of 65.
Social isolation is a significant consequence of dementia diagnosis for many individuals. The Dementia Australia website lists three main isolating components for those living with the disease:
• More than two times more likely not to see friends compared to their carers and the general public
• More than three times as likely not to have a friend to confide in compared to their carers and the general public
• Almost three times as likely not to have a friend to call on for help compared to the general public
Ensuring we support those with dementia to feel connected to the community and a valued member of society is incredibly important, particularly during this period of COVID-19.
The feelings of loneliness and isolation are also common with the carers of those living with the disease.
The information above was sourced from the Dementia Australia website.
Providing care to someone with Dementia
As someone providing care to a person with dementia, it is essential that you understand that dementia is more than just memory loss and you remain empathetic, patient and understanding to the person you are assisting.
More specifically, we remind you to follow these tips:
9. Set a positive mood through body language and attitude
10. Actively get the person’s attention by encouraging the removal of distractions
11. Speak in a slow and comforting tone
12. Use simple words and sentences
13. Listen fully and provide complete attention to the person
14. Break activities down into manageable steps
15. Write things down and leave notes to assist where possible
16. If the person gets agitated, distract and redirect their attention
17. Respond with a reassuring tone
18. Ensure you are patient and do not rush the person
Training and support
At HenderCare, we provide dedicated dementia training courses to help support those of you who are working with clients with dementia.
For those in SA, we are currently offering our Older Person Mental Health First Aid which again will run in December. For further information, please click here.
Nationally, we also provide Dementia Awareness (AU) training which can be accessed online via Qintil.
If you notice any change in the condition of a service recipient, please contact HenderCare as soon as possible on 1300 764 433 to inform your Coordinator.
The early signs of dementia are very subtle and vague and may not be immediately obvious. Some common symptoms may include:
• Progressive and frequent memory loss
• Personality change
• Apathy and withdrawal
• Loss of ability to perform everyday tasks.
For more information on Dementia Action Week and how you can make a difference in the lives of those living with dementia, click here.