SEVERAL organisations across the region have banded together to provide two workshops on living with dementia and navigating the My Aged Care system.
The first workshop will focus on the federal government's My Aged Care system and will take place at Pyrenees House on Girdlestone Street, Ararat, Wednesday July 10 at 2.15pm.
East Grampians Health Service will host the event and it will be supported by Grampians Pyrenees Primary Care Partnership, Ararat Rural City Council and several other local organisations.
The second one will focus on living well with dementia and will take place on Thursday July 11 at the Lake Bolac Bush Nursing Centre, 155 Montgomery Street, at 9.30am.
Guest speaker Sue Pieters-Hawke, author of Hazel: My mother's story, and national ambassador for Alzheimer's Australia, will talk about changing the stigma and improving care for dementia sufferers.
Alzheimer's disease is just one form of dementia, with other forms including vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy body disease.
Dementia Australia says dementia is one of the leading causes of death in Australia, and in 2016 surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death for women.
Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians (aged 65 years or older) and the third leading cause of disability burden overall.
Dementia Australia also says that dementia isn't just an older person's disease - in 2019, there is an estimated 27,247 people with younger onset dementia to date.
Grampians Pyrenees Primary Care Partnership project manager Anna Greene said sufferers and carers in isolated regions face additional challenges than their metropolitan counterparts may not.
"No doubt there are many similar personal challenges between those living in the city or country, however those living with or caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's in rural or remote areas have the extra challenges associated with isolation, long term care, service provisions and use of technology," she said.
"For many living in rural areas, accessing professionals with specialist knowledge requires more travel, distance and time than their city counterparts."
Ms Pieters-Hawke said the biggest roadblock to helping people with dementia was stigma, which she said stemmed from "medieval" thinking about disease.
"There's still a lot of shame around dementia and their families, which is so sad," she said.
"People hold a lot of ideas that people with dementia can't do anything and what they say shouldn't be listened to.
"Say (for example) their speech is impaired with dementia - instead of listening to find out what they mean, you say 'don't listen to them, they've got dementia.'
"There's research that shows pain is much higher in hospitals for people with dementia because they are just dismissed.
"They are still human beings. They shouldn't be shut away from the community and they shouldn't have their human rights denied.
"I think it's based on very medieval thinking of mental illness being the work of the devil."
Ms Pieters-Hawke will talk more about the stigma, and the positive things that carers, family and friends of people with dementia can do to provide a strong support network at the workshops.
"All sorts of people can make a hugely positive difference," she said.
Ms Greene said support is available locally.
"There is a suite of services available locally and regionally along with many specialists and professionals that travel into the area," she said.
"Three separate memory support guides have been developed to help access regional relevant information and support.
"The three guides cover the Central Highlands, Grampians Pyrenees and Wimmera regions.
"The memory support guides are located on our website and will be updated annually and offer a comprehensive guide to support people living in our region to live well with memory changes and dementia."
Both events are free with RSVP requested by July 4.
To RSVP for the My Aged Care session, email email@example.com, and to RSVP for the Sue Pieters-Hawke presentation phone 5355 8700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on dementia, click here.
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