Dementia Awareness Month gets underway

With Dementia Awareness Month now underway a wide range of short films, public lectures, and cultural events aim to challenge public misconceptions about the disease and end the dementia stigma.

 

Short films, public lectures and forums, and arts and cultural events are among the wide range of national initiatives underway since Monday as part of Dementia Awareness Month.

The theme of this year’s Dementia Awareness Month is ‘Creating a Dementia-Friendly Nation’. As such, Alzheimer’s Australia is calling on the public to help develop communities where people living with dementia are respected, valued and supported to maintain a good quality of life.

To help challenge Australians to end the dementia stigma and encourage them to become more dementia-aware, Alzheimer’s Australia has produced a new video which features three people, Glenda, Keith and Graeme, who are living with dementia in Australia. They share their experiences, the stigma they have experienced as a result of their diagnosis, and their views on the small things people can do to help create a dementia-friendly nation.

Together, Glenda, Keith and Graeme challenge people’s traditional view of dementia by showing that they can continue to be contributing members of society, with some help from their communities. Alzheimer’s Australia said its vision is to create a dementia-friendly Australia, a place where people living with dementia are supported to live a high quality of life with meaning, purpose and value.

Alzheimer's Australia has produced a video to help reduce the stigma around dementia
Alzheimer’s Australia has produced a video to help reduce the stigma around dementia.

To coincide with the video, Alzheimer’s Australia has launched a set of resources for businesses and people in the community, to help them understand what it means to be dementia friendly.

“The toolkit for businesses gives practical tips and information on how to train staff to better understand dementia, language guidelines to communicate with people with dementia, and ways to involve people with dementia in volunteering and employment,” said Alzheimer’s Australia national president Graeme Samuel.

“The toolkit also provides community councils with information on how to include the needs of people with dementia in their town planning, as well as actions plans to help community groups such as the local football club and RSLs to become dementia friendly.”

Mr Samuel said that, as part of the dementia-friendly initiative, Alzheimer’s Australia had engaged Kate Swaffer, a person living with dementia, as an official consultant to be the voice of consumers.

Australian Ageing Agenda has today published a comment piece from Ms Swaffer. Click here to read ‘Why I can live well with dementia’

Elsewhere, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic CEO, Maree McCabe said that since people with dementia wanted to be active participants in their own lives, it was important to encourage communities to enable people with dementia to maintain a good quality of life following a diagnosis of dementia.

She said:

“Volunteering and employment opportunities for people with dementia, as well as businesses that have staff trained to understand dementia and communicate effectively with people with dementia are just some of the ways that our communities can become dementia-friendly.”

Ms McCabe said that greater awareness and understanding of the condition could also help. “A general lack of understanding and fear of dementia in the community is the primary barrier to people with dementia being engaged in their own communities. Too often people with dementia experience social isolation following a diagnosis of dementia, partly because people are unaware of the symptoms and unsure how to respond to the changes in a person that they have always known.”

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is hosting a number of events as part of Dementia Awareness Month, but its headline event will be a public lecture ‘Creating dementia-friendly concepts and communities’ by Steve Milton of Innovations in Dementia UK on Thursday 18 September at the Melbourne City Conference Centre. Click here to register

World Alzheimer’s Day is on Sunday 21 September.

Tags: alzheimers-australia, arts, dementia awareness month, kate swaffer, maree-mccabe,

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