Dementia stigma cause for concern

According to a new report from Alzheimer’s Australia WA, the stigma attached to dementia is the number one concern for people who live with this condition.

Rhonda Parker, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Alzheimer’s Australia WA, believes that this stigma is born from a lack of education.

“The single biggest issue that was identified in the consultation was around stigma,” said Ms Parker. “The people we spoke to said it affects the way people engage with them and even allow them to participate in community life.”

Ms Parker claims that this particular study marks the first time research has been undertaken via genuine conversations with those who suffer from the disease. Around 300 people living with dementia were interviewed, and the results were based on their personal experience with the disease.

The report, which was funded by the Western Australian State Government, also highlights the various challenges that dementia sufferers face each day. There are an estimated 342,800 Australians who have dementia, around 32,000 of which live in WA – and these numbers are predicted to rise along with our ageing population.

A range of community programs are being developed and tested in WA in order to better understand the needs of people living with dementia. One such community is conducting an audit of the physical space to ensure it meets the needs of people with dementia.

Currently, around 70 per cent of people who live with dementia reside at home of which 30 per cent live by themselves. Researchers believe that in order to reduce the strain on future health spending, we need to find ways to assist patients with dementia to live in their own homes for longer.

“This is what people with dementia want, they want to be able to stay at home,” said the Mayor of Wanneroo, Tracey Roberts. “The people in the community, especially in service providing jobs, need to be educated on how they can communicate and support people with dementia.”

Ms Roberts also believes that the most important aspect of dealing with dementia is community awareness and better knowledge of the disease and its related issues. She hopes that these initiatives will help to do just that.

“With that knowledge comes respect,” she said.

Read more at www.abc.net.au

Have you had any first-hand dealings with someone who lives with dementia? If so, how do you interact with them? Do you have any advice for our members on how best to assist people living with dementia?

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