To mark Dementia Action Week 2019, which runs from 16-22 September, Dementia Australia will be calling on all Australians to change how we respond and behave around people living with dementia.
This year’s theme, Dementia doesn’t discriminate. Do you?, aims to start a conversation with all Australians to consider how discrimination impacts people living with dementia, their families and carers.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said dementia doesn’t discriminate in terms of who is impacted, but we can choose not to be discriminatory in the way we interact with individuals who are living with this chronic condition.
“A person living with dementia might be ignored or dismissed in conversations,” Ms McCabe said.
“Sometimes without realising it people will talk directly to the carer as if the person living with dementia is not even there.
“Assumptions might be made about a person’s capacity to contribute to conversations, decision-making, whether they can still drive, cook or even continue to work. Friends and family might stop calling or inviting a person living with dementia to social occasions – not out of deliberate neglect but possibly out of not knowing how to include them.
“Our focus during Dementia Action Week will deepen the inquiry into discrimination and dementia.”
The national peak body is calling on the community to complete a short survey to help create an informed, national picture to better understand how discrimination for people living with dementia occurs, within what contexts and what it would take to shift that behaviour.
Dementia Advocate Dennis Frost, who is living with dementia said that getting as many people as possible to complete the survey would provide solid data that would enable Dementia Australia to develop a roadmap towards changing community attitudes and behaviours.
“With 70 per cent of the 447,000 Australians with dementia still living in the community, it is so important for people, just like me and our carers, to remain connected and respected as we go about our everyday lives,” Mr Frost said.
“We really want this survey to challenge Australians and inspire a societal shift in thinking about how their responses impact on the everyday life of a person living with dementia.”
Ms McCabe said recent research had shown that around 40 per cent of people felt awkward around someone with dementia and found talking to them confronting.
“This lack of understanding about dementia impacts over time, with people living with dementia more than twice as likely not to see friends compared to carers and the general public,” she said.
There are a range of ways that people can get involved in Dementia Action Week.
This includes completing the survey and then sharing the survey link and messages via social media to spread the word.
Dementia Australia has invited the community to join the conversation about discrimination and dementia by hosting a Dementia Action Week event with friends, family, their local club or community group, or at work. Get involved by attending one of these events, and learn more about dementia and discrimination. Click here to find out what’s happening near you.
To launch this important conversation Dementia Australia will host, ‘Discrimination and dementia the health issue of our time.’ on Monday 16 September at the Sydney Opera House. It will include a panel discussion with Dementia Australia Ambassador Ita Buttrose AC OBE; Shaynna Blaze, interior designer, host of Selling Houses Australia on Foxtel and a judge on the Nine Network’s The Block; and Dementia Advocate Phil Hazell. The panel will be facilitated by Sky News Australia Political Editor David Speers. Seats will be limited for this free event. Find out more by clicking here.
All Australians can make a difference. Find out more about Dementia Action Week at www.dementia.org.au/dementia-action-week
 Dementia Australia (2017) Awareness and understanding of dementia in Australia
 Alzheimer’s Australia Report (2016) Dementia and Loneliness
My wife Allison was diagnosed with Alzheimer's some 15 years ago. Currently she cannot move her body, cannot talk and is blind. Urgent research is required to find ways of finding out if people like her are in pain. It would also be very useful if she could identify the people attending to her. No such research appears to be in progress. This type of research
Would like to find out more about the memory can What that entails.
Everyone even with Dementia have rights just like you and me , They deserve to be treat with love and care as though they were a member of your family. Not just a vegetable who knows nothing and doesn’t know what they are talking about.
"Dementia Australia will be calling on all Australians to change how we respond and behave around people living with dementia." Re: The above statement, I have been living as a carer for many years to my wife. I was surprised to read that statement, it is not generally the case, at least in Queensland SE. We are both in our 80s, married nearly 60 years and I can honestly say I have found the attitude of the public in general to be a Beautiful and pleasant communication. At times it brings tears to my eyes. My wife Judy chats to many strangers in supermarkets and I have never seen any sign of discomfort expressed only smiles and laughter at what is being exchanged. Judy is classed as a high-risk patient. From experience I can only say that the services and help available have been first class, we are so lucky to live in Australia. Many people, in general, are uncomfortable with impromptu casual meetings with strangers. I hope that I am not being rude but I believe You are working at the wrong end of the problem by calling on all Australian to change how we respond and behave around people living with dementia. So, a quick word in support a smile or even a nod of the head makes such a difference that is all it takes.they are still human beings. The chances of that happening are very slim. We need to show individuals actual Mum's Dads even young people living with dementia 'This could be you'. To bring out the good in people because they are the ones with a problem, not the patients living with the big 'D' they need care, love, and our respect. I often remind my wife that she's still my Judy, only with dementia. My only problem now is as my Judy slowly loses touch with reality being when do I say Goodbye. Thank you for all you are doing regards, it so necessary. Peter and Judy Randall
I am the Clinical Nurse Educator of the Acute Geriatric Evaluation & Management Unit at Port Macquarie Base Hospital and am responsible for education throughout the wards. I am on the working party working towards PMBH becoming a dementia friendly hospital. PMQ electorate is known to have the 3rd highest numbers of residents who live with dementia. We are holding a week of activities and displays throughout the hospital and I have registered the event through DA and looking forward to receiving the resources in September. We have also been fortunate enough to have the Memory Van come the following week for a day. Looking forward to that busy month ahead.
Great initiative and a must to recognize the equal citizenship rights of people living with community in communities and residential care homes. I will be doing what I can at work and on social media to spread the word!