As part of Dementia Awareness Month 2014, Alzheimer’s Australia hosted Parliamentary Friends of Dementia in Canberra on Tuesday 23rd September. Along with our new President, Mr Graeme Samuel, our international guest speaker Steve Milton from the UK, I presented on the issues facing consumers that that I feel most need addressing. It was an event aimed at improving the lives of people with dementia, raising awareness of the issues, and where Alzheimer’s Australia released the results of a report “Living with dementia in the community: Challenges and opportunities.”
Australia’s first survey of people with dementia to identify priorities for tackling stigma and social isolation associated with dementia in the community, and the results show the social impact of the condition. I believe this is significant, not so much in the results, but because it is an authentic voice. So often it is the carers voice that is in the research, and not that of people living with a diagnosis of dementia.
The results were released by Alzheimer’s Australia National President, Graeme Samuel at the Alzheimer’s Australia Parliamentary Friends of Dementia at this event. See a précis of the results below:
188 Australians were surveyed
59% thought that people avoided spending time with them because of their diagnosis
41% wished they had more social contact with people in the community
57% indicated they are afraid of becoming lost
48% said that they have difficulty communicating with staff in stores
25% said that people seem to feel uneasy around them because of their diagnosis
- People with dementia indicated the following as priorities in creating dementia friendly communities:
- Increasing community awareness and understanding about dementia
- Improving access to social activities and opportunities for engagement including employment and volunteering
- Access to appropriate health and care services to support them to continue to live at home for as long as possible
- Access to affordable and convenient transport options
- Improved physical environments including appropriate signage, lighting and colours
A common theme across all of the responses was the need for better communication to support people with dementia to participate in their community.
For me it is really simple, and yet we as a society many of us are failing in so many ways, not just for people with dementia, but almost all ‘other’. Kindness, acceptance, non judgement and respect… being nice to everyone would perhaps even save a lot of money, but definitely a lot of stress.