September is Dementia Awareness Month and Lenore says the theme – ‘you are not alone’ – is a vital message for the growing number of Australians diagnosed with dementia each year.
More than 340,000 Australians are living with dementia, a number that is expected to grow to 400,000 in less than a decade.
Of that figure, 25,100 people are living with younger onset dementia (a diagnosis of dementia under the age of 65, including people as young as 30).
ACH Group is leading the way in providing services to support this group of people through its Tailor Made project.
“There continues to be a stigma that surrounds dementia, so when people are diagnosed they may not want to talk about it with others,” Lenore says. “Unlike cancer and heart disease, which are publicly accepted and acknowledged, it can be much harder to know where to turn.”
Lenore says early intervention just before and immediately after diagnosis is crucial for people with dementia and their families. “People need to know that they are not alone, that they can get support to remain autonomous and engaged, that they can slow the decline and reduce the impact of dementia.” Lenore says evidence shows that activities that combine social, cognitive and physical activity are of the most benefit. That can include golf, lawn bowls, photography groups, walking groups and choirs – all activities provided and supported by ACH Group.
“These are all activities where you can talk to others and have some fun,” she says. “We know that the best thing you can do for a person with dementia is to lift their mood. When someone can no longer read, follow a movie, get organised to make dinner, they feel frustrated.”
Lenore says emotional wellbeing can improve a person’s quality of life.
“For family, seeing their partner or family member enjoy activities and come alive again gives them hope, a sense of peace, and it gives them a break, too.”
“We want people to know that they are not alone, that there are people who know about dementia and understand what they are going through.”
As part of Dementia Awareness Month, ACH Group raised funds through a raffle and casual day for Team Tender Loving Carers, a volunteer group auspices by Alzheimer’s Australia SA.
ACH Group offers a range of social groups and support for people living with dementia, their families and carers. These include:
- A monthly support group for wives or partners of people with younger onset dementia
- A golf group for people with younger onset dementia
- Regular respite for carers in the community or a residential care setting
- Information and support
- Advocacy on behalf of the person with dementia
- A ‘Dementia Champions’ development program for staff passionate about supporting good lives for people living with dementia.
Find out more about ACH Group dementia services at www.ach.org.au/good-health/dealing-with-dementia