September saw a record Dementia Awareness Month with activities and events held across the country. Focused on the theme, You Are Not Alone, Dementia Awareness Month increased community awareness and understanding of dementia so that people with dementia, their carers and families feel better supported, less isolated and alone.
The month began with the launch of the Dementia and Loneliness report on 1 September. Dementia Australia surveyed more than 1500 people, including people with dementia, for the report which found people with dementia and carers were significantly lonelier than the general public.
The report found people with dementia were:
- More than twice as likely not to see any friends
- More than three times more likely to not have a confidant
- Almost three times as likely to not have a friend to call on for help compared with the general public
The Dementia and Loneliness report received extensive national media coverage and was downloaded more than 1200 times.
People with dementia, carers and Dementia Australia staff members got involved, with the creation of a short video which was used to launch the month.
International guest speaker Director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Mayo Clinic Study on Aging in the U.S and a world leader in the field of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Dr Ron Petersen, visited Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and South Australia.
Appointed chair of the Advisory Committee for Research, Care and Services to the National Alzheimer’s Project Act by the US Secretary of Health and Human Services and to the World Dementia Council 2014 by UK Prime Minister David Cameron Dr Petersen shared information about the National Alzheimer’s Project in the US which seeks to effectively treat or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.
The National Alzheimer’s Project has a plan for achieving a reduction in the severity of symptoms and delay in the onset of dementia which was published 2012 and is updated annually with recommendations to achieve the target.
Importantly, Dr Petersen said the plan’s review and updates were performed by a committee which is independent of federal government regulations and budget, key to achieving the 2025 target.
Dr Petersen also joined Dementia Australia National Ambassador Ita Buttrose AO OBE in Canberra for the National Press Club Address on World Alzheimer’s Day, Wednesday 21 September.
The nationally televised address raised awareness of dementia in Australia and the strategies in place in the US to reduce the rise in rates of dementia by 2025.
Ita spoke of the social cost of dementia and the need for a fully-funded national plan for dementia that would see improved outcomes for people who are living with dementia, access to early diagnosis, post-diagnostic support and services, treatments and a greater focus on research and risk-reduction.
“It is difficult to imagine another chronic condition clouded by as much stigma and misunderstanding as dementia,” Ita said.
Ita said even though dementia was the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians most people don’t think of dementia as a disability, but rather as a terminal medical condition of old age where nothing can be done.
“This simply isn’t so. People can live well with dementia. When they’re given appropriate support they can – like the rest of us – live meaningful lives. A diagnosis of dementia does not preclude positive living, joyful experiences and loving relationships.
People with dementia need support that takes into account their preferences, their goals, and what their life was like before they got a diagnosis. And they have the same human rights as everyone else in the community,” Ita said.
New radio advertisements featuring Dementia Australia’s National Ambassadors Ita Buttrose and Sue Pieters-Hawke were launched during September and will continue to be played on a number of radio stations across Australia. Dementia Australia would like to thank Ita and Sue for generously donating their time to recording them.
Social media was a buzz during the month, 30 facts in 30 days sought to bust dementia myths throughout the month and give people information, advice and support.
Monuments shone teal, selfies were taken and #dementia2016 was trending!
Thanks to everyone for taking part.