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  • Writer's pictureJacqui Grant

Feature Article -Dementia

Connect and Grow Magazine Edition 4 - December 2023


This month, our feature article on dementia is by Lisa Twig. Lisa has both a personal and professional understanding of dementia.


What is dementia?


Dementia is an umbrella term for several diseases that affect memory, thinking, and the ability to perform daily activities. Alzheimer’s (accounting for between 60 - 70% of cases) is the most common disease, but there is also Vascular, Lewy body, Frontotemporal, Posterior cortical atrophy, and a few other types of dementia. While a lot is being done in terms of research and early intervention, there is currently no cure.




 

How common is dementia?

 

ABS data cites dementia as the second most common cause of death in Australia, second only to heart disease. Dementia Australia estimates there are more than 400,000 people living with all forms of dementia in 2023, this figure is projected to double by 2058.

 

 

Non-modifiable and modifiable (preventative) risk factors

 

Non-modifiable risk factors for dementia are risks that cannot be changed, such as:

 

•           age – as you age, your risk of developing dementia increases

•           genetics – there are a few very rare forms of dementia associated with specific genes

•           family history – a family history of dementia increases your risk of developing dementia

 

 

There are also modifiable/preventative risk factors for dementia. In other words, whilst we cannot change getting older, genetics or family history, scientific research suggests that changing certain health and lifestyle habits may make a big difference to delaying or reducing a person’s risk profile for dementia later in life:

 

•           heart health – maintaining healthy blood pressure, regulating glucose and cholesterol levels, not smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption

•           body health – maintaining regular exercise and healthy body weight, getting adequate sleep, eating well, protecting your head, having regular hearing assessments

•           mind health – reducing stress, staying socially connected, focusing on the positive relationships in your life, regularly “exercising” your brain, taking up a new sport, hobby or activity




 

If finding out more about dementia prevention interests you, I highly recommend the ‘Preventing Dementia MOOC’, which comes out of the University of Tasmania (Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre). The course is 100% free, online, self-paced and offered at various times throughout the year. You will learn about the most recent research going on worldwide in this area, and it may alleviate any fear and confusion about dementia.


Support Options






People living with younger onset dementia may be eligible for NDIS funding. However, those diagnosed over the age of 65 years should apply for government-subsidized aged care services via My Aged Care (www.myagedcare.gov.au).







In terms of phone support, both the National Dementia Helpline (1800 100 500) and the Dementia Support Australia helpline (1800 699 799) are available 24 hours a day. For most people, talking to a stranger when you’re feeling distressed is a “safe” option, in that it provides an opportunity to speak openly without fear of being judged, or misinterpreted, by those closest to you.

 

 

There is a wealth of information online about dementia, including FB support groups, training courses and management strategies. Knowledge is power. Acquire some knowledge, and you cannot help but feel more empowered 😊

 

Written by Lisa Twigg - Guest Author

 

Independent Social Worker and Author of “Eighty Years Without Dementia. Diagnosis Doesn’t Define Life”

 

You can learn more about Lisa’s book in the book corner; we have provided the links there.




(C) Connect and Grow Magazine Edition 4 December 2023


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