Patience and taking time are simple measures that people can take to support those living with dementia to continue to live full and active lives.
During Dementia Action Week (21-27 September) Dementia Australia is sharing tips to help people understand how they can make a positive difference in the lives of people living with dementia.
Three of those tips are about giving people living with dementia the space to do things for themselves, listening instead of trying to solve problems, and taking the time to let someone find the right words.
Kevyn Morris, who lives with a cognitive impairment, took up photography and resumed playing the guitar after his diagnosis.
He said learning new activities helped to keep his mind active however he said people often falsely assumed that he was unable to do certain things.
“If you give us a chance, we may very well surprise you with what we can do; not what you think we can’t,” he said.
Bobby Redman, who lives with dementia, said that often people thought they were being caring by trying to finish her sentences or solving a problem for her.
“The problem with stepping in and doing everything for us is, in actual fact, it disempowers us,” she said.
Her advice is that instead of stepping in, people should wait a moment or ask the person living with dementia if they needed help.
Eileen Taylor agreed that a bit of patience made a lot of difference especially when she was trying to find the right word to express herself.
“When people take the time, it makes me feel good and I feel understood,” she said.
Kevyn, Bobby and Eileen are all Dementia Advocates and have shared their stories of living with dementia to highlight the discrimination they face and share tips to help people interact positively with someone living with dementia.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said this year’s Dementia Action Week, with the theme “Dementia. A little support makes a lot of difference”, demonstrates that it doesn’t take much to make a difference.
“As the advice from Kevyn, Bobby and Eileen shows, it can often be as simple as slowing down and having a bit of patience,” Ms McCabe said.
“People who live with dementia sometimes need a bit longer to tell you what is on their mind. Giving them a minute to find the right words gives them the confidence to keep communicating.
“What people living with dementia need is a little bit of support. It really can make a lot of difference.”
The tips are in response to results from a Dementia Australia survey that found 63 per cent of people living with dementia who responded to the survey believe discrimination against those living with dementia is common.
Dementia affects close to half a million Australians and that number is set to double in the next 25 years.