Connecting Peers – Dementia Advocates play vital role

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Peer Leader Heather Cooper

‘Almost every day I will be lacing up my shoes only to see my jeans still hanging on the chair… Laugh it off. The sun is shining, and the dog needs his walk. Accept the erratic nature of dementia and just carry on.’

Peer Leader – Heather Cooper (Pictured)


Dementia Australia’s new Peer Support Program, Connecting Peers, is filling a much-needed gap by connecting people living with a dementia diagnosis – or carers/former carers - with someone in similar circumstances. 

Thought to be the only program of its kind in Australia, Connecting Peers brings people together who share interests and challenges, one-on-one, by phone or zoom. 

“The program revolves around an incredible group of volunteer Peer Leaders, many of whom are also Dementia Advocates,” explains Connecting Peers Team Leader Mel Farley.

Mel says that the Connecting Peers program offers a new and important avenue for Dementia Advocates to share their experiences with another person. Peer Leaders must have significant living experience of dementia, either as someone living with a diagnosis or providing care to someone with a diagnosis.

“Peer Leaders listen and validate, which has the potential to normalise the experience of dementia for someone; it’s simple but incredibly powerful.”

Ann Pietsch, a Peer Leader and Dementia Advocate living with Lewy body dementia, says its enlightening and humbling to hear other people’s stories.

“It reminds me of the richness of dementia,” she says. “We (Peer Leaders) get as much as we give.”

Up to six sessions are available with a Peer Leader over six months. There may be a waiting period while the optimum match is identified.

If you are interested in becoming a Peer Leader or would like to find out more about the program, email or call Mel Farley on 0482 186 769.

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