Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2013 Contents With over 1,700 people
diagnosed with dementia
each week and as many
as 320,000 living with
the disease, it is easy to
demonstrate that people with dementia
are all around us. They are our family
members, our friends and our neighbours.
They are frequently our clients --
consumers of aged and dementia care
services -- but they are also consumers
of the same day-to-day services and
activities that we all take for granted.
The ability for us to maintain a
connection with our communities through
day-to-day tasks such as being able to
complete our banking, go to a local shop
for groceries and catch a bus, train or even
a taxi, is integral to our well-being and
sense of purpose. But for so many people,
these normal activities become harder
over time after they develop dementia.
With increasing numbers of people
living in the community with dementia or
mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's
Australia felt it was important to develop
a resource that could help people working
in key roles in services in the community
to recognise and understand the signs of
dementia in people they may come across
in their working lives.
With funding from the Commonwealth
Department of Health and Ageing,
Alzheimer's Australia South Australia
worked with innovative South Australian
filmmakers, Short Focus Films, to
develop a suite of 12 short films targeting
different industry groups including fire
and emergency services, correctional
services, and the retail, banking and
UNDERSTANDING IS KEY
In developing this resource, the team at
Alzheimer's Australia South Australia
examined how we support people living
with dementia in our communities.
Focusing on the six major industries
(transport, banking, retail, fire,
emergency and corrections) where you
might encounter a person living with
dementia, the filmmakers and the team
worked collaboratively with each of those
groups, to firstly raise awareness about
dementia so it might be better recognised.
We did this by presenting some
common scenarios that people in each
industry might encounter and can
easily identify with and then asking the
question, 'could this be dementia?'.
For example, people with dementia
will lose their capacity to drive at some
stage during the disease and public
transport will become (if it wasn't
already) a major part of their life. Buses,
trains and taxis all require us to use our
navigational and processing skills to help
us in our journey -- but for a person with
dementia these messages can get mixed
up. They might commence a journey
knowing where they are going or why
but during the trip they may become
confused or agitated.
It might be very frustrating for you
that someone travelling next to you on
a bus suddenly starts asking where their
stop is; or in a taxi when they challenge
the destination even though it's the
one they gave the driver. But a little
knowledge about dementia can lead to a
lot more understanding.
Similarly, the experience of going to
the shops for milk and bread can become
overwhelming for someone with dementia.
The noise and distraction provided by
the environment of the shop adds to the
person's confusion and a simple task
becomes a complex one. In a busy shop it
is easy to see frustrated customers jostling
to have their own needs met and sales
staff struggling to deal with what they
might see as unusual behaviour.
Likewise, the process of negotiating
money and transactions in a bank, with
tellers behind glass screens and over
stimulation, may increase levels of
confusion for a person living with dementia.
SAFETY IN EMERGENCIES
Emergency situations present particular
challenges. Have you ever watched a mass
evacuation on television? Thinking back
to the Queensland floods, remember the
trauma of trying to remove people from
their properties or their vehicles? Now
imagine if those people had dementia.
Would they understand why an emergency
Recognising the signs
A new resource
consisting of 12
short films targeting
a range of different
sectors in the
community aims to
of dementia, writes
The cover jacket for the new short film resource, Is it Dementia?
52 | JULY -- AUGUST 2013 | AAA
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