We can all do our bit for peo­ple with de­men­tia

Kyabram Free Press - - NEWS -

ex­pe­ri­ence dou­ble vi­sion. A black mat on the floor can look like a huge hole.”

Touch, taste and smell can be af­fected, while hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity to noisy en­vi­ron­ments and in­for­ma­tion over­load can also cause dis­tress.

It is this hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity – as well as many other symp­toms – which can even­tu­ally lead to so­cial iso­la­tion. look­ing to em­brace those af­fected by de­men­tia.

With “love” at its cen­tre, the flower has five petals – com­fort, iden­tity, oc­cu­pa­tion, in­clu­sion and at­tach­ment.

“Ev­ery­body needs to be loved. On top of that, they need to feel com­fort­able – warm, dry and clean with a full stom­ach and a comfy chair,” Ms Ken­non said.

“They also need to feel in­cluded, oc­cu­pied and sur­rounded by things they’re at­tached to.

“Fi­nally, they need to have their iden­tity in­tact. Reaf­firm who they are and make sure they have things around them that are im­por­tant to them.”

De­men­tia be­came per­sonal for Ms Ken­non when her late father was di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

The lives of Ms Ken­non and her fam­ily were never the same again.

“To see what he went through – and my mother, who cared for him – was re­ally tough,” she said.

“Dad strug­gled to dress, eat and walk with­out as­sis­tance. When we even­tu­ally put him in respite, my mum slept for a week.”

The 24/7 care Ms Ken­non’s mum gave her dad is a re­al­ity for many car­ers in our com­mu­nity who serve tire­lessly, main­tain­ing a high qual­ity of life for those with de­men­tia.

After wit­ness­ing this first hand, Ms Ken­non urges lo­cals to get be­hind car­ers.

“Give them time off. Un­der­stand them, talk with them – above all, lis­ten to them,” she said.

“Just like those with de­men­tia, car­ers can of­ten feel iso­lated and lonely – and they are also com­pletely ex­hausted.”

As the num­ber of those liv­ing with de­men­tia grad­u­ally rises in the shire, Ms Ken­non hopes Kyabram will con­tinue to de­velop as a de­men­tia-friendly town.

“Kyabram is amaz­ing al­ready, but how can we be even more aware?” she said.

“It’s im­por­tant to be aware of the en­vi­ron­ment. Avoid sen­sory over­load such as loud noises and pat­terned car­pets. Peo­ple with de­men­tia strug­gle to look up, so hav­ing signs at eye-level is ben­e­fi­cial.

“As for in­ter­ac­tions, eye con­tact is im­por­tant. Speak at a mod­er­ate rate, don’t ask dif­fi­cult ques­tions and give peo­ple time to re­spond. Don’t an­swer for them. Stay calm, slow down and just lis­ten.”

The team at War­ra­munda are pas­sion­ate about rais­ing aware­ness of de­men­tia.

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