Dementia fight gets help
GUIDELINE TO LIVING WITH DISEASE
SINCE Ardross resident Keith Glance was diagnosed with younger onset dementia in 2012, the deterioration of his social life has been every bit as devastating as the progressive loss of his cognitive abilities.
Like many of the thousands of West Australians living with dementia, Mr Glance and wife Wendy have found the stigma associated with the disease can be far worse than the symptoms.
Accordingly, Mr Glance jumped at the opportunity to contribute to a groundbreaking new document designed to help people living with dementia remain in their homes and con- nected to their communities. Guidelines for the Development of Dementia Friendly Communities is the culmination of years of consultation between Alzheimer’s Australia WA and people just like Mr and Mrs Glance.
Driven by a deep desire to remain an active member of the Melville suburbs he has called home for all of his 56 years, Mr Glance and his wife attended two community workshops to voice their views and opinions.
“We realised that we had experienced first-hand the stigma and isolation that go along with communities not being dementia friendly,” Mrs Glance said.
“Friends drop off, mainly because they haven’t had any education.
“It’s not because they’re not good people, it’s just fear.
“They don’t know how to communicate with a person living with dementia so the easiest thing is to not engage, which is a perfectly natural response.”
Alzheimer’s Australia WA chief executive Rhonda Parker said the new guidelines would act as a practical tool to help break down those fears and assist local governments, businesses and community organisations to begin building dementia-friendly communities.
The key outcomes of the document include reducing stigma and increasing understanding, developing built environments that enable people with dementia and improving access to social clubs, transport support and personcentred care services.
There is also a focus on providing employment and volunteering opportunities for people with dementia and ensuring that businesses train staff on how to interact with customers that have dementia.
“There are now 33,000 West Australians diagnosed with dementia and Australia-wide one person diagnosed with dementia every six minutes,” Ms Parker said.
“Our mantra is tomorrow the cure, today the care.
“Dementia is a progressive disease and a person at diagnosis will be at a varying stage of loss of cognitive ability.
“It’s a matter of finding what the person can still do and how can we continue to support them to be engaged.”
For more information visit the website www.fightdementia.org.au or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
Alzheimer’s Australia WA chief executive Rhonda Parker with Ardross couple Keith and Wendy Glance.