Great Lakes Council takes up challenge to raise awareness of dementia

THREE members of Great Lakes Council’s leadership team have taken up the “21 Day Your Brain Matters” challenge to raise awareness of dementia and at the same time, reduce their own risk of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Australia reports that the Great Lakes Local Government Area has the highest incidence of dementia in NSW.

By 2050, diagnoses of dementia are expected to increase by 368% in our area alone.
Australia-wide, Alzheimer’s Australia expects to see an increase from the 1,700 reported weekly in 2013 to a staggering 7,400 cases per week in 2050.

By 2060 spending on dementia is expected to outstrip any other health condition at more than $83 billion.
Councillor Leigh Vaughan, General Manager Glenn Handford and Director of Corporate and Community Services Steve Embry have responded to these sobering statistics by taking up the 21 Day Challenge, which involves doing something to challenge their brain every day for 21 days.

Alzheimer’s Australia’s “Your Brain Matters” Program recommends five simple steps to maximise your brain health.

5 simple steps to minimise the risk of dementia

They are: look after your heart; do some kind of physical activity; mentally challenge your brain; follow a healthy : Great Lakes Councillor Leigh Vaughan, General Manager Glenn Handford and Director of Corporate and Community Services Steve Embrydiet; and enjoy social activity.

Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning.

It is a broad term used to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and what would be considered normal emotional reactions.

Most people with dementia are older, but it is important to remember that most older people do not get dementia.

It is not a normal part of ageing.

Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65 years.

People in their 40s and 50s can also have dementia.

Councillor Leigh Vaughan has taken up the Challenge because, “Having both close friends and a family member suffer Leigh Vaughan Great Lakes Councilfrom dementia has given me personal experience of this debilitating disease and raised my awareness of its terrible consequences.

“Then recently Alzheimer’s Australia came to talk to us, and the statistics are frightening.

“I’m doing this to raise awareness of the prevalence of the disease, but I’m also helping myself by keeping my brain healthy, I hope not to contribute to the statistics.

“I have a personal philosophy that music is a great brain activator,” continued Cr Vaughan, who has chosen to learn new fingering patterns on her cello as her challenge.

“My ultimate aim is to increase my technical ability and level of skill which will set the path for the next few years, and take me out of my comfort zone.”Glenn Handford Great Lakes Council

General Manager Glenn Handford is a keen chess player. “I like chess because it really challenges the mind,” he said. His challenge is to study the openings from the grand masters.

Steve Embry, a passionate guitar player, has also chosen music for his challenge.  “Mastering a complex piece of music is not easy,” he said. “My challenge is to commit to practicing a complex piece of music every day for an hour. “The statistics are quite worrying,” he continued.

“I think anything we can do to avoid this disease is worth a try. It’s good to be taken out of our comfort zone.”
The challenge will start on Friday 1 August and you will be able to follow the participants’ progress on Council’s website.

Myall Coast News will keep you updated on progress of your Great Lakes Council’s leadership team.Steve Embry Great Lakes Council

For more information on dementia visit the website and for details of how you can improve your own brain health visit

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