September was Dementia Awareness Month and it was jam-packed full of activities across the state raising awareness, dispelling myths, reducing stigma and ensuring people living with dementia, their families and carers know they are not alone.
The month included a range of free local events, launch of the latest DVD in the award-winning series “It’s Not a Disgrace, It’s Dementia” aimed at non-English speaking communities, and the announcement of St. George Bank as the first Australian dementia-friendly bank on World Alzheimer’s Day, 21 September.
The highlight of the month was the Alzheimer’s Australia NSW public lecture held at the Art Gallery of NSW on 13 September, featuring international dementia expert Steven Sabat, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Georgetown University, USA.
For the past 35 years, Professor Sabat has studied the cognitive and social abilities of people with Alzheimer’s disease in the moderate to severe stages, the persistence of selfhood, the subjective experience of having the disease, and how communication between people diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers may be enhanced. He has explored these issues in numerous scientific journal articles, book chapters and presentations at national and international conferences.
With the title “Forget memory loss: people with Alzheimer’s disease can make new memories” Professor Sabat’s lecture in Sydney discussed what memory loss really means and how using this term can hinder people who have been diagnosed, and that people with Alzheimer’s disease can in fact make new memories and act on the basis of those memories.
An extensive radio and media campaign occurred during Dementia Awareness Month getting the free National Dementia Helpline number out to as many people as possible. This proved successful, with almost double the amount of calls to the Helpline than the same time last year. The Helpline is staffed by a wonderful team of dementia advisors and counsellors who are available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday on 1800 100 500. Find out more here
Our campaign 30 Quotes in 30 Days also sparked conversation on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages during Dementia Awareness Month with thoughts from a range of people who have been touched by dementia – from Alzheimer’s Australia’s National CEO and ambassadors to dementia researchers, and people living with dementia, carers and loved ones.
Although Dementia Awareness Month is over for this year, we will continue to keep the spotlight strongly on dementia.