September is Dementia Awareness month, and with one-in-10 Australians over the age of 65 affected, we’re being encouraged to help sufferers feel less isolated and alone.
The Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM MP, said this year’s Dementia Awareness month theme ‘You Are Not Alone’ reflects the importance of supporting those with dementia and their carers.
“Anyone who has had a family member or friend with dementia can tell you how devastating it can be, both to the person themselves and those around them,” he said.
“Dementia can rob people of their memories, and affect their perception, reasoning and cognition, leaving them unable to carry out everyday tasks,” he said.
“Sometimes a simple hug or holding a hand is enough to let people know they’re not alone.”
Dementia can happen to anybody, and it’s a growing health problem in Australia.
Mr Wyatt said currently there are more than 350,000 people with dementia, and this is expected to rise to more than 900,000 by 2050.
Dementia is not one specific disease – it’s actually a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders of the brain. We often don’t know what causes the diseases that lead to dementia, or how to cure them, although some medications can help reduce the symptoms.
“This is why the Coalition Government committed $200 million over five years in the 2014 Budget to boost dementia research.”
The National Health and Medical Research Council’s National Institute of Dementia Research has been established to target, coordinate and translate dementia research in Australia.
The Government has recently provided $3.9 million to Alzheimer’s Australia, over three years to June 2019, to establish a national Dementia Friendly Communities program in Australia.
Dementia Friendly Communities will deliver educational community awareness programs to give people a greater understanding of dementia and the small things that can be done to make a real difference to people living with the condition.
Mr Wyatt said organisations such as Alzheimer’s Australia play an important role in helping educate people about dementia and its impacts.
For information and activities during Dementia Awareness Month go to the Alzheimer’s Australia website or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.