In 2011, John Hiller was diagnosed with younger onset dementia. John’s doctor referred him to Dementia Australia for support and care to live a full and fulfilling life after his diagnosis.
A lack of community awareness prompted John to become a Dementia Advocate. He wanted to tackle dementia head on; challenge what he saw as the existing stigma and myths that cloud the lives of people living with dementia, their carers and families.
John was also motivated to dispel the belief that dementia is a normal process of ageing and affects only the elderly.
“I was diagnosed at a relatively young age. Physically I haven’t changed, however people don’t understand the difficulties that I struggle with on a daily basis,” he said.
“People with dementia want to be accepted for their individuality, their value to family and community and not be defined by their condition.
“In order to achieve this, it’s important there is increased awareness and understanding of dementia so people living with dementia can be supported to live a high quality life with meaning, purpose and value.
“We know there is currently no cure for dementia, however people can learn risk reduction strategies, like participating in regular physical activities and eating healthy to help reduce their chances of getting dementia.”
John is proud to be one of the founding members of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee which was established in 2013. The committee consists of 12 people living with dementia who are involved in dementia advocacy.
Committee members provide advice on policy, advocacy and national programs. They also work to promote dialogue between those living with dementia and service providers, to promote a better understanding of how to support people impacted by dementia.