Dementia information drop-ins begin at Tea Gardens Library

There is plenty of literature available from Dementia Australia and the Government.

REMOVING the stigma of dementia, and diagnoses thereof, was an important message delivered at the inaugural Dementia Alliance Information Drop-In held at Tea Gardens Library on Friday 28 June.

The Drop-In, henceforth held regularly on the fourth Friday of every month, was a wellspring of literature and advice, headed by representatives of local groups and Dementia Alliance, with input from Dementia Australia.

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Attendees showed exceptional bravery, opening up about their own or partners’ experiences, dealing with a positive diagnosis, but also how life can go on.

“Dementia is a brain condition, it is not a normal part of ageing, and there is much plain-English information regarding what dementia is, its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and support networks,” states Dementia Australia.

The informative first meeting covered the fact that there are many forms of dementia, and there are also many other conditions that may be easily confused for dementia, without a proper diagnosis.

“The effects of dementia vary, but generally, dementia affects your mood, thinking and behaviour,” was another key point from Dementia Australia.

“In fact, dementia is not one specific disease, and is actually a broad term that covers the effects on people of a number of different medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementias, and more.”

The small drop-in can, understandably, become an emotional situation, but it was evident from those speaking that such emotions were as much due to talking about a loved one’s health, as it was about overcoming the unspoken taboos that currently plague open discussions regarding mental health.

What the breast cancer movement has done for awareness of that disease has been life-saving for so many, and a similar outcome would be a lofty and important goal of spreading dementia awareness.

One of the life-altering things dementia patients must often deal with is the loss of their driving license, which is about public safety, but can come as a deep personal blow.

“If something changes in your behaviour or health, get checked out – it could just as easily be other things, so a diagnosis is crucial,” was the most important advice.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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