VR enhances carers’ knowledge
A PRESENTATION about a new state-ofthe art digital technology tool to understand people living with dementia was delivered to a carers’ support group at Beechworth Health Services last month.
Dementia Australia’s Denise Gregory said the educational headset - a virtual reality immersive experience - was an important tool in understanding people with the brain disease.
Known as ‘Edie’, the experience gave family carers a chance to step in the shoes of someone who lived with dementia and helped understand how to communicate too.
An important training tool for carer staff, volunteers and the general public, co-founder of the carers support group Ms Lorna Nash said she hoped that health professionals would take advantage of the opportunity including GP’s and diagnostic health workers.
The 16-member carers group that meets monthly, was formed as a result of the ‘Changing Minds’ project that rolled out in Beechworth three years ago.
The project emerged when Beechworth became one of five Australian pilot dementia-friendly communities raising awareness in the town for people living with disease.
Ms Nash said every group member had personal experience as a carer that distinguished it from other groups.
The group is part of the Beechworth Health Services volunteer strategy too and also met to share experiences and support each other.
Ms Nash said although people had an illness, they still had a personality and worked hard to be normal.
Beechworth’s Di Everingham said living with dementia was how people could thrive and not just survive in an environment.
“They are still the fabric of a community and have a role to play,” she said.
Ms Gregory said it was important to break down barriers
“We’re an ageing population and dementia is on the rise,” she said.
Cardiovascular risk factors, diabetes and high cholesterol have deemed to be leading causes of dementia.
“What’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” Ms Gregory said.
“Although there has been a lack of understanding about dementia by many people, there had been increased awareness about living well with dementia.”
Dementia, the second leading cause of death of all Australians, has jumped by 68 percent over the last decade.
Dementia Australia statistics indicate that more than an estimated 436,000 people live with the disease and there are close to 1.5 million carers who look after sufferers.
SUPPORTED: Carers support group members (from left) Lynne Oliver, Lorna Nash, Bron Cunnington, Debbie Tully, Judy Burnett, Di Everingham, Dementia Australia’s Denise Gregory and Valerie Privett at a recent session at Beechworth Health Services.