Today with the arrival of Spring we celebrate new life. The arrival of Spring each year is also an opportunity for all Australians to grow in our personal understanding of the chronic illness dementia – the second leading cause of death amongst Australians. (1)
If every Australian improved their understanding of how to respect, connect with and enjoy life with people who have dementia – the quality of life would improve immensely for the 413,000 Australians living with dementia and their family carers.
“You are Not Alone”
For the second year in a row the theme is “You are Not Alone” precisely because people diagnosed with dementia and their carers (family members) do feel socially isolated. Fair-weather friends drop them. Even some family members see them less. It’s so very sad for both the person with a dementia and equally their carer because they really need the friendship, love and companionship of family and friends more than they ever have.
This month Daughterly Care is working harder than ever to “spring forth” a better understanding of dementia to reduce the stigma.
Daughterly Care is providing more and more opportunities for our clients with dementia to enjoy outings and social connection with their peers, whilst supporting them to remain living in their familiar, loved and comfortable homes. One example of this is our Club Connect Lunches overlooking Narrabeen Lake we hold every 2 weeks.
Daughterly Care’s Club Connect at Narrabeen Lake
Last Friday we took 3 clients to the Archibald Art Exhibition. One lady is 55 years young with Younger Onset Dementia, and an artist, along with two older ladies in their 80s with different forms of dementia. One of the older ladies has aphasia. This means the part of her brain that allows her to choose and speak her words – is damaged, so she often cannot say what she knows she wants to say. People with aphasia are often treated as stupid or described as “gone” and excluded. We’ll call her Rose, not her real name, but this experience I describe is 100% real.
I know from the Club Connect Lunches I have had with Rose that she understands the conversations being spoken to her and in her company. Rose understands what is being said but mostly can’t find her words so has limited verbal participation in a social setting.
The effect the Archibald Art Exhibition had on Rose was mind blowing!
When Rose returned from the Archibald she couldn’t stop talking!
Rose’s High Care Case Manager Suzie, Live in Carer and I were overjoyed to witness Rose talk for over 30 minutes non-stop.
✓ initiated conversation with us;
✓ spoke in whole sentences;
✓ expressed herself perfectly;
✓ answered questions perfectly;
✓ was joyful; and
✓ appeared to have improved self esteem.
Rose told us this was her favourite art piece from the Archibald.
Interestingly of the 3 clients we took – Rose was the only one who intensely listened and enjoyed the 60 minute Art Lecture. The other 2 clients felt overwhelmed by all the words – so our Caregivers walked them around the Archibald Exhibition and they enjoyed the art, one on one. Whereas Rose enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of the lecture. Whilst the lecture was especially for people living with dementia – the lecture was not simplified and in fact other people in the Art Gallery stopped to listen too.