Small community actions can make a positive difference for people with dementia

Glenda, Keith and Graeme, three Australians living with dementia, have said stigma surrounding dementia still exists in the community.

In a video released today as part of Dementia Australia’s Dementia Awareness Month, they highlight that there are small things that people can do to support them to live a high quality of life with meaning, purpose and value.

“Many people in the community are unaware that the progression of dementia occurs over many years. Quite often there is still the opportunity for people with dementia to contribute to their communities and continue to be involved in activities they have always enjoyed,” Graeme Atkins, featured in the video, said.

“We hope that the video inspires and encourages people and organisations in Australia to become dementia friendly so people like me can feel safe to go about our daily lives and be accepted for who we are and not defined by our diagnosis.”

To coincide with the video, Alzheimer’s Australia has launched a set of resources for businesses and people in the community, to help them understand what it means to be dementia friendly.

“The toolkit for businesses gives practical tips and information on how to train staff to better understand dementia, language guidelines to communicate with people with dementia, and ways to involve people with dementia in volunteering and employment,” Alzheimer’s Australia National President, Graeme Samuel said.

“The toolkit also provides community councils with information on how to include the needs of people with dementia in their town planning, as well as actions plans to help community groups such as the local football club and RSLs to become dementia friendly.

“By educating people on the symptoms of dementia, we could reduce the stigma surrounding dementia, and instead focus on ways to better engage and communicate with people with dementia in our communities.

“As part of the dementia-friendly initiative we have engaged Kate Swaffer, a person with dementia, as an official consultant to be the voice of our consumers.”

This year’s Dementia Awareness Month theme is ‘Creating a Dementia-Friendly Nation’.

Dementia Awareness Month 2014 is supported by financial assistance from the Australian Government.

Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. As the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 332,000 people have dementia in Australia. The number of people with dementia is expected to be almost 900,000 by 2050.

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500 
An interpreter service is available 
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative) www.fightdementia.org.au