IN the Orange electorate at the moment there are 1100 people living with dementia, with the majority cared for at home by loving husbands, wives, family members or friends.
Orange-based geriatrician Dr Catriona Ireland said the day to day challenges of caring for someone with dementia can put huge emotional and physical demands on carers.
Dr Ireland said dementia remains a feared diagnosis.
“Some people fear it even more than cancer because they feel there will be a loss of control and dignity,” she said.
“Quite often people with dementia do not sleep and so their carers in many ways can find themselves on 24-hour duty seven days a week,” she said.
Dr Ireland said respite for carers need to remain a focal point if that level of care is to continue in the community, and she encourages people to seek support if they are looking after someone with varying levels of dementia.
She said during Dementia Awareness Week this week is an ideal time for carers to seek support and for the wider community to make themselves aware that lifestyle changes can have a major impact on the onset of and progression of dementia symptoms. She said research shows there is a direct correlation between staying as healthy as possible and a delayed onset of dementia.
“Physical and emotional well-being are so important,” she said.
Dr Ireland said exercising three times a week and remaining socially active are important risk reduction factors.
“The first point of call has to be a general practitioner who will then refer you on to specialist services,” she said.
However if you occasionally walk into a room and forget someone’s name, take heart as it is not necessarily an indication you may be in the early stages of dementia.
“That is perfectly normal behaviour at times because when you put it in context it will come back to you,” she said.
Alzheimer’s Australia is predicting by 2050, Orange will have 3300 people living in our community who have Alzheimer’s.