De­men­tia car­ers mind­ful of fu­ture

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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