Dementia carers mindful of future
BEECHWORTH kiosk on Saturday became the ‘go to’ place for information about ways to support people with dementia.
September is national dementia awareness month and Alzheimer’s Australia is helping to co-ordinate ‘You are not alone’ – a national campaign to foster community support and understanding for those who have dementia and for the people who care for them.
A carer support group developed in Beechworth after it was selected as a pilot community for a program called ‘Changing Minds’ in 2015 and Saturday’s information exchange was the first of three activities to build wider community awareness of the condition.
Beechworth’s Lorna Nash – who has helped to shape the group – said a caring role could be a difficult and lonely journey.
“Our aim is to help and support each through sharing problems, knowledge and reinforce the message that ‘you are not alone,” she said.
Beechworth Health Service chief executive Mark Ashcroft said the committed carer group was to be acknowledged for its work with the health service to raise awareness of dementia in the community.
The interaction provided carers with a support network, too.
But the collaboration, most importantly, maintained a focus on people with dementia.
“Focusing on the person with the diagnosis and their carer, as opposed to just the diagnosis, is important because everyone’s situation is different and is a very personal one,” Mr Ashcroft said.
Beechworth’s Di Everingham lost her husband to a complex form of dementia.
She said it was important to maintain communication people affected by condition.
“People want to remember (a person with dementia) as they were, but we still love and cherish them just the same,” she said.
Health services and carers estimate that about 240 people with dementia live in Indigo.
The carer support group meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month in Bantick House on the BHS Sydney Road campus.
Ms Nash said the group’s collective understanding of people with dementia was readily available to help others.
The carers could also advise about the number and range of available in-home services.
The two other awareness activities this month include a free training session by Alzheimer’s Australia at BHS on September 13, where participants will explore dementia and its effects, and a palliative care service pain management workshop at Beechworth Senior Citizens’ Hall on September 27.
BHS, Indigo North Health, Indigo Shire Council and Yackandandah Health continue to collaborate to build on the learning from ‘Changing Minds’.
EMPATHY: Ainslie Whyborn (left), Beechworth Health Service chief executive Mark Ashcroft, Joan Simms, Di Everingham, Lorna Nash and Penny Bingham offered information at Beechworth kiosk on Saturday to foster community awareness of dementia and its effects.