Alzheimer's Australia's Christmas wish for $500 million
22 December, 2011
Alzheimer’s Australia calls on the Federal Government to invest $500 million over five years to address Australia’s dementia epidemic as its Christmas wish.
The organisation has made the call as part of its Fight Dementia campaign, which aims to raise awareness, increase understanding and secure guaranteed funding for dementia in the 2012/13 Federal Budget.
The CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, Maree McCabe, said almost 270,000 Australians have dementia and an estimated 1.2 million more support them.
"Dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s disease, is one of the fastest growing major disease burdens Australia faces," Ms McCabe said.
"It is the chronic disease of the 21st century and must be part of any aged care reform.
"We need urgent action to address this with a $500 million Dementia Action Plan over five years."
The proposed Action Plan will provide funding to promote dementia awareness; achieve timely diagnosis; provide quality dementia care; make Australians aware they may be able to reduce their risk of dementia; and invest in dementia research.
Twelve Australians affected by dementia have lent their voice to the campaign.
"You can count down the days ‘til Christmas by listening to the Christmas wishes of 12 Australians affected by dementia," Ms McCabe said.
"Give them the gift of support and become a dementia champion."
You can find the videos at the Fight Dementia Campaign Website www.campaign.fightdementia.org.au.
For people diagnosed with dementia, Christmas can be a difficult time of year, especially when reuniting with extended family and friends, some of whom are no longer familiar.
Disruption to routines, unfamiliar environments and lack of regular support services can also be stressful for people with dementia.
Here are some tips for families, friends and carers:
Offer reassurance People with dementia enjoy routines, so Christmas Day and holidays can be an unsettling time. Some people with dementia may become confused, upset or even aggressive, so spend time listening to them, explaining things to them and offering reassurance.
Visitors Try not to have too many visitors come to the person all at once. Trying to recognise too many faces at once and the sounds of too many voices can become very confusing.
Remembering names Make sure you introduce yourself or the visitor by name and, if they have trouble remembering, remind the relative with dementia of the name and the connection with that person from time to time.
Conversation The ability to communicate varies, depending on the degree of dementia. If conversation is difficult, giving a hug, or holding their hand can be a good alternative way of communicating. Keep the conversation light, and try not to talk to the person as though they were a child as this can be frustrating for them.
Anxiety Some people with dementia can become anxious in a noisy or crowded environment. Make sure your friend or relative is comfortable by finding them a quieter area with enough space.
Keeping involved Involve the person in activities like wrapping gifts, reading cards you receive together or looking through photo albums or scrapbooks. Involve them in day-to-day activities like cooking, walking, etc. Also, allow some quiet time during the day.
For more information, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 and talk to someone who understands.
Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. As the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and information.
An estimated 267,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to double by 2030.
National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
An interpreter service is available
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative) www.alzheimers.org.au
Media enquiries Christine Bolt 0400 004 553, firstname.lastname@example.org