I’ve been promoting the idea of dementia friendly towns and communities in Australia since meeting Sabine Henry at ADI London in 2012, the woman behind the project in Belgium. Belgium at that time had 25 dementia friendly cities, and the project had been recognised by the World Health Organisation. Alzheimer’s Australia is working hard on this at the moment, and although not related to Alzheimer’s Australia’s work, it was terrific to read about this project in Port Macquarie-Hastings, something we can work together on for future projects. As I often say, “What we can’t do alone, we can do together“.
By Tracey Fairhurst, Sept. 23, 2013, midnight, Port MacQuarie News
THE vision of establishing Port Macquarie-Hastings as the first dementia-friendly town in New South Wales is one step closer following the announcement of $10,000 funding to support research into how the region can better care for people living with the disease.
Minister for Ageing and Disability Services John Ajaka announced the funding during a visit to the Hastings where he meet with Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and a number of community groups to discuss disability services and aged-related issues.
“Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians aged 65 years and older and given that our population is ageing it makes sense that our communities have a greater understanding of the disease,” Mr Ajaka said.
More than 84,000 people are currently living with dementia in NSW and this is estimated to rise to 341,000 by 2050. Port Macquarie-Hastings is currently ranked second in the state for the highest prevalence of dementia. It is also among the fastest growing populations in NSW, expected to soar by 19.3 percent over the next 20 years with residents aged 65 and over to more than double.
“The Port Macquarie Dementia Project Group will use the funding to research how Port Macquarie, as one of the state’s most desirable places to retire, can better cater for people who are affected by dementia,” Mr Ajaka said.
The research will be conducted by Southern Cross University and will explore design options to ensure public places and residences are more accessible and safe.
Mrs Williams said dementia is a 21st century disease and should be a high priority for the whole community.
“It is important that all levels of government have a clear understanding of the impact that dementia is having and will continue to have on our community,” Mrs Williams said.
“The community also has a role in helping people with dementia feel connected with each other and so much of that comes from people being able to identify it when they encounter someone who has it,” Mr Thomas said.
“We want to combat negative attitudes towards dementia and promote greater inclusion which could be through walking groups, choirs, school programs, work place engagement and the use of technology.”