Barry Cohen speaks up about dementia care

Once again Cohen has spoken publicly about his experience of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and in aged care. The article was published online yesterday,and I watched his interview on the ABC last night. Apart from the interviewer referring to people with dementia as sufferers, it was insightful, oddly uplifting, and sad.
I say uplifting because when someone like a former politician speaks negatively about aged care, people sit up and listen, including governments. Let’s hope everyone is listening, not just governments and funders of research, but especially those providing aged care because they affect the lives of those already diagnosed who have no choice but to live in aged care.
It was interesting that the doctors had advised Barry and his family there was no choice but to go to aged care… Another case of Prescribed Disengagement…. giving up on every hint of one’s pre diagnosis life. In short, this is unhelpful, and somehow we need to stop this from happening.

Barry Cohen, former Hawke government minister, calls for more to be done in search for dementia cure

Published at by Tracey Bowden: The 7.30 Report.

Former Hawke government minister Barry Cohen has revealed he has dementia and is calling on the Federal Government to do more in the search for a cure.

“People like Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten, and they are both friends of mine, they have got to put it on the front pages,” Mr Cohen told 7.30.

“I want to see politicians standing up in the House and asking questions: what are we doing about Alzheimer’s?”

Later on in the interview:

Initially he was placed into a nursing home, an experience he would rather forget.

“I was miserable as a bandicoot, you have no idea how depressed I would get,” he said.

“There is nothing to do, you lie on the bed, stare at the ceiling, eat three meals a day and watch television.”

While there are medications that can control some of the symptoms of dementia, there is no drug that can stop or reverse the disease.

“We’ve got to get serious about this at the top level, and I am not talking about Labor or Liberal – they are both the same, they are just becoming aware that we are facing a real crisis and we have to act now ’cause in 20 years’ time there won’t be 300,000 there will be 900,000 and maybe more,” Mr Cohen said.

“We don’t hesitate about spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a submarine, for God’s sake.

“I’d rather have a few thousand people alive than a submarine.”

In the 2014 budget the Federal Government committed an extra $200 million to Australian scientists and medical researchers working on ways to prevent or cure dementia, but Mr Cohen wants more.

“Let’s try and find a cure,” he said. “We have put aside $200 million for research over the next five years.”

“Double it, treble it. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of people’s lives, and not just being alive but enjoying lives.”

He is still writing newspaper columns and hopes that by adding his voice to the call for more research, it might make a difference.

“People like me get it and we get others excited and then the media get onto it and then, bingo,” Mr Cohen said.

He is urging all Australians to join him in putting pressure on the politicians.

“Drive your local member mad – they didn’t mind driving me mad.”

Go here to read the full article


8 thoughts on “Barry Cohen speaks up about dementia care

  1. i watched this last night and was so impressed by Barry’s eloquence. He showed Australia that its possible to have a diagnosis of dementia and have every right (and desire) to live well. Yes, its a shame that it takes a public figure to get the message heard, but at least it was heard! I was so impressed by the segment I went to work all excited about wanting to share with all our care staff at work (community care)


  2. It always seems very sad and frustrating when it takes someone in the public arena to comment before people start to listen. However, this is just a sign of times, times that we need to change but still a sign of the times. If action is taken following his comments, then it’s better than no action at all.


  3. A little disturbing to me, that nothing has changed in the minds of Doctors since 2002. This is regardless of your advocacy Kate, which is 100% supported by Barry Cohen.


    • Hi Jeff… lovely to hear from you, and yes, it is disturbing nothing has changed!!! I hang out with a lot of people, including doctors and researchers, and suspect it is partly ignorance, partly arrogance… too often people become defensive when someone says they need change, rather than open their minds and hearts… and EARS. Oh well, I will keep banging on about it, and it is great to have your support as well as someone like Barry Cohen speaking out about these things.


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