Tips to better support people living with dementia released every day as part of Dementia Action Week

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This week, for Dementia Action Week – from 21 September-27 September - Dementia Australia is sharing daily tips showing simple, yet effective, ways to support people living with dementia.

Today, on day one, Dementia Australia is focusing on how to make home life easier for people living with dementia with a few smart changes.

At the age of 59, Dennis Frost was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. Since then, Mr Frost has been involved with a number of community initiatives and he is able to continue living well with dementia with a few small changes to his home environment.

“The crux of why you want to change things around the house is that it helps maintain your existing lifestyle for as long as possible,” Mr Frost said. "In my house the coffee cups live on one shelf, in the right order. You could even find them in the dark without any issues.

“You can apply this to other items around the home, and it becomes intuitive that things are always going to be in the same place, so your efforts don’t have to go into locating them.

“If changes are being made in the home, the person with dementia will find them more useful and easier to accept if they’ve been involved in the planning."

Creating a dementia-friendly environment can go a long way to improving the lives of people with dementia.

A dementia-friendly environment is familiar to the person, easily accessible, safe, secure, and supports the person living with dementia to retain their independence.

Some simple changes that can be made around the house include:

  • Consider having the toilet door a different colour to other doors
  • Consider symbols or photographs to indicate the function of the room
  • Use a whiteboard or calendar to post notes of appointments.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said dementia affects close to half a million Australians.

“That number is set to double in the next 25 years, which means that many Australians will start experiencing the impact of dementia among their own family and friends,” Ms McCabe said.

“With so many people impacted now and into the future, it is vital we clear up some of the prevailing misconceptions about dementia, which can lead to judgements by the community about the capacity of a person living with dementia and condescending behaviours. Such beliefs can lead to significant discrimination against people living with dementia. “However, people living with dementia can continue to live active and rich lives for many years after diagnosis.

“The theme for this year’s Dementia Action Week is Dementia. A little support makes a lot of difference. because a little support really can make such a difference.”

To find out more about today’s tip, and the tips for each day of the week, head to dementia.org.au/actionweek.

Today, Monday 21 September, is also World Alzheimer’s Day. To mark this, Alzheimer’s Disease International has released its annual World Alzheimer’s Report, which looks at dementia design principles in the built environment.

The World Alzheimer’s Report 2020: Design, Dignity, Dementia; dementia-related design and the build environment, calls on governments to embed design in their national dementia responses under the Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities.

Ms McCabe said that in Australia, dementia is not widely recognised as a disability, although it has long been described as the single greatest cause of disability in Australians over the age of 65 years, and the third leading cause of disability burden overall.[1]

“Dementia Australia is building on the messages in this report to continue to advocate for dementia-inclusive design and recognition of dementia as a disability.”

Dementia Australia’s theme for Dementia Action Week, from 21-27 September, is Dementia. A little support makes a lot of difference. Dementia Action Week, a Dementia Australia initiative, received funding from the Australian Government.

-Ends-

Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated half a million Australians living with dementia, and the almost 1.6 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people impacted by dementia, and to enable them to live as well as possible. No matter how you are impacted by dementia or who you are, we are here for you.

For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available and the Helpline is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday excluding public holidays. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit dementia.org.au

Media contacts: Stephanie Taylor-Watkins, Media and Communications Advisor, 0423 936 371, [email protected]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people living with dementia are some of the most vulnerable people in our community right now. Until further notice, Dementia Australia will no longer facilitate any face-to-face, in-person interviews with people living with dementia, their families and carers. We will continue to facilitate interviews by video conferencing and telephone calls.

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia-Friendly Language Guidelines.

 [1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Dementia in Australia