You are a son or a daughter, perhaps a mother or a father, perhaps a husband, wife or partner, and perhaps a friend.
You’ve been to school. You’ve worked. You might be religious or be spiritual. You live in a certain culture, and speak the language you know best.
All those things have meaning to you. They’re part of who you are, and they’re still there. It’s important for you, at this time, to build on the things that have meaning for you.
You have to adapt to any changes, but you will also be happiest if you can be yourself.
Occupational therapists, diversional therapists and social workers can all help you in different ways.They’ll need to get to know you first – your past,your culture, your likes and dislikes – so that any suggestions they offer are right for you.
An occupational therapist can help you find activities that interest you or help you figure out ways to keep doing the things you love, in spite of the difficulties you might face. This might mean setting things up a bit differently at home, or showing you new ways to do things, like taking shortcuts.
A diversional therapist can work with you to find activities, leisure and outings that interest you. They will work with you to make sure they are enjoyable, not stressful.
A social worker can help you find the right allied health professional or service. So can an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker
Shaun had always worked hard. When he developed dementia and had to retire earlier than he had planned to, he needed to make some big adjustments. But adjust he has. He started working a vegetable patch at home, and now volunteers at two community gardens, earning a TAFE certificate along the way. He meets with a men’s group regularly. He volunteers at church. He reads. And once a fortnight, he meets at a coffee ;club organised by a dementia advisor.
Between 10 and 25 people, some with dementia, some carers, meet at the same café once a fortnight to talk and relax. An allied health professional is always present to provide support and information. Shaun has found them so good he’s started going to others in neighbouring areas.
I enjoy them. I like to feel I can support and encourage people. This is a good way of helping others out.
- Engage, Enable, Empower. A website for people living with dementia. Alzheimer’s Australia.
- Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. Alzheimer’s Australia.
- Resources for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Alzheimer’s Australia.
- Understanding Dementia. A massive, open, online course (MOOC). Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania. Free, 9-week course for people living with dementia, carers and professionals.
The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government funded initiative.