Stop­ping ‘so­cial death’

Fremantle Gazette - - NEWS -

WHAT makes de­men­tia one of na­ture’s cru­ellest dis­eases is that those af­flicted of­ten fade out of the world long be­fore they die.

Mount­ing feel­ings of con­fu­sion and em­bar­rass­ment lead to with­drawal and those liv­ing with de­men­tia re­treat into a quiet but dev­as­tat­ingly lonely shell.

Michael Verde, founder of the global Mem­ory Bridge pro­gram, is ded­i­cated to putting an end to that emo­tional iso­la­tion.

A renowned speaker and de­men­tia ed­u­ca­tor based in Texas, Mr Verde is re­turn­ing to Perth for three free ses­sions on de­men­tia hosted by the City of Melville in part­ner­ship with Alzheimer’s WA and At­ti­tu­di­nal Heal­ing.

“Mem­ory Bridge’s sole con­cern is to bridge love into the lives of peo­ple with de­men­tia so that they do not ex­pe­ri­ence a so­cial death be­fore their bi­o­log­i­cal one,” he said.

“Re­cent re­search con­cludes that be­ing emo­tion­ally iso­lated af­fects one's health more neg­a­tively than does smok­ing and its im­pact is equiv­a­lent to the im­pact of one's diet.

“If com­pan­ion­ship im­proves the bi­o­log­i­cal health (of some­one liv­ing with de­men­tia) all the bet­ter. But if be­ing loved does not ex­tend the life of a per­son with de­men­tia, or en­hance her mem­ory, or im-

prove her scores on the min­i­men­tal exam – it wouldn't matter in the least bit to Mem­ory Bridge’s mis­sion.

“We are into cre­at­ing the kinds of joy and even, if need be, mo­ments of shared sad­ness – that give our life mean­ing.”

Mr Verde be­lieves that out­side of a cure, the most vi­tal need for peo­ple liv­ing with de­men­tia and their loved ones is real emo­tional con­nec­tion.

Reg­is­tra­tions es­sen­tial via melvil­ erde or on 9364 0666.

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