Dementia: How you can help

OPINION: Commissioner for Senior Victorians Gerard Mansour. Picture: THE AGESEPTEMBER is Dementia Awareness Month.
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With more than 322,000 Australians affected by dementia, better awareness of the needs of peopleis essential.

Dementia Awareness Month isa great opportunity for us to reflect – what do I know about dementia?

While the rates of dementia aren’t increasing that is, the number per head of population, the number of people with dementia continues to increase given our longer life expectancy and increasing number of older people.

A dementia diagnosis can be challenging and research shows some people avoid spending time with a person who has dementia as it can be confronting. But if we take time, our community can make a difference: firstly by improving our personal understanding of dementia and secondly by creatinga dementia-friendly community.

Personal concerns can be addressed by a betterunderstanding of dementia.

As we age, it is natural for our five senses to deteriorate.Like other older people, people with dementia experience these functional declines, along with a gradual decline in cognitive ability. However, they retainpersonal interests, can communicate ,socialise and can suffer loneliness and depression if socially isolated.

Carers of people with dementia, often their partner or adult child, also need support and understanding within their local communities.

To better support people with dementia and their carers, it is vital for our community to understand what it means to create dementia-friendly environments and communities. For example, businesses, employers and organisations can provide services tailored to the needs of people with dementia, and their carers.

Having staff who understand dementia and know how to communicate with people with dementia, employers allowing flexible arrangements for carers of people with dementia, organisations creating volunteering opportunities for people with dementia or welcoming people with dementia to join in their social, learning or sporting activities.

You can learn about dementia-friendly environments by referring to Alzheimer’s Australia help sheets athttps://vic.figthdementia.org.auor at www.enablingenvironments南京夜网.au.

Environments can also be made more dementia friendly with relatively minor adjustments. For example, using paint to make doorways, steps and stairs more easily discernible (this also helps the vision impaired); and making signs for the toilets and lifts bold, easy to read and at eye-level.

The Department of Health’s Dementia Friendly Environments guide provides information and tips on changes you can make to the home environment:http://www.health.vic.gov.au/dementia/

I encourage you to visit the Department of Health and Alzheimer’s Australia websites to find out how we can become a more dementia friendly community.

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