September is Dementia Awareness Month, when all Australians are encouraged to learn more about what it is like to have dementia and how they can support people living with the disease.
More than 425,416 Australians have dementia and 90 per cent of people living in the community with dementia are cared for by an informal carer – a spouse or child.
This year’s theme, ‘Small Actions, Big difference’, highlights how small actions can help people with dementia to remain included, accepted and connected with their community.
Getting behind Dementia Australia’s initiative, Uniting AgeWell is encouraging members of the community to follow these simple steps for supporting people with dementia and to pledge their support by becoming a Dementia Friend.
Uniting AgeWell offers a range of dementia-specific services across Victoria and Tasmania to support people to remain connected and give carers a break from their vital but often stressful role.
Its carer support groups in Bendigo and Forest Hill aim to reduce stress and provide carers with the supports, practical strategies and networks they need to maintain their emotional health and wellbeing.
Wendy Sheldon is one of those who benefit from the Uniting AgeWell’s carer support groups. She had cared for her husband of 60 years, Laurie (pictured with Wendy), full-time for the past three years.
Wendy said the support group was a good way to connect with other people and discuss shared experiences.
“Going to the support group I’m able to talk to other people with the same problems and learn how they’re handling things I’m not handling very well,” she said.
While the carers attend the meetings, the people they care for are invited to engage in meaningful activities at Uniting AgeWell’s respite services.
Activities are tailored to the interests of the clients and reflect what they do at home or with friends - cooking, sewing and crafts, contributing to community programs, sing-a-longs, trips to gardens, tourist attractions and other places of interest.
Through in-home respite, Uniting AgeWell’s personal care workers spend time with clients at home, enabling their carer to have a break. Staff can also take the person with dementia on outings to places of interest, enabling them to maintain social contact with the community.
The Music For David program uses music therapy to support clients with dementia and their carers at home. Clients receive headphones with built-in MP3 players equipped with music chosen specifically to suit clients’ tastes.
The program was based on research that found music could provide pleasure and meaningful activity for people living with dementia.
Cottage respite enables people to stay overnight or for weekends in a home-like setting, supported by around-the-clock care.
In addition to the wide range of community support, the organisation’s 11 residential aged care facilities across Melbourne and Victoria offer specialist dementia care and support, providing safe and stimulating environments with 24/7 care.
For more information about Uniting AgeWell’s dementia-specific services, call our friendly staff on 1300 783 435.