New ideas on old age
THE physical signs of aging can include wrinkles and the need for glasses and a walking stick.
But signs of Alzheimer's Disease or dementia are much less visible.
So few people realise that about 280,000 Australians are living with the disease daily and that 1600 new cases are diagnosed each week.
Those figures will be brought home to the Sunshine Coast on September 26 when respected Alzheimer's Australia president Ita Buttrose and Ambassador for Aging Noeline Brown as keynote speakers at Suncare Community Services' Positive with Age event.
Ms Buttrose will be honouring the 500,000 people who are affected by the disease as sufferers and their carers and supporters.
The half-day event with lunch and piano recital will promote aging with vitality and focus on a new way of thinking about dementia and old age.
Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre Sunshine Coast manager Michelle McAllister said the presentation was part of an ongoing campaign to let people know "Alzheimer's and dementia are not a normal part of aging, contrary to what a lot of people think about it".
Ms McAllister said the event also would look at ways of reducing the stigma associated with dementia.
"It's not something that should be viewed as 'Oh god, you know, look at those old people over there'," she said.
"A person with dementia may change but it doesn't mean they stop being a valuable member of society.
"As people age, there's a whole heap of wisdom that (they) acquire. Some of their best years are in their golden years."
The event will feature 20 information stalls from key health and community service providers, including Alzheimer's Australia Sunshine Coast, which is dedicated to providing community education and improving quality of life of elderly Sunshine Coast residents.
Alzheimer's Australia Sunshine Coast CEO Lori McLeod said about 5000 people on the Sunshine Coast had been diagnosed with dementia.
But she said not all those were living in residential care.
"According to stats and records, about 60% are still living at home," Ms McLeod said.
"A person with dementia is far better at home - it's a happy environment.
"They can still enjoy their life.
"It's also a good thing for families - if they can sustain it."
Ms McLeod said only 2000 carers were registered on the Sunshine Coast and Gympie.
Ms McLeod said the two greatest problems facing people as they aged were social isolation and becoming inactive.
Mind Your Mind - Alzheimer's Australia's dementia risk-reduction program - lists ways to help avoid both these problems at http://mindyourmind.org.au/.
Positive With Age will be held at Novotel Twin Waters Resort from 10.30am-3pm on Wednesday, September 26, during Dementia Awareness Week which runs from September 21-28.
EARLY SIGNS OF DEMENTIA
- Difficulty remembering recent events
- Poor judgement
- Withdrawal from work/social engagements
- New problems with written or spoken words.
- It is a myth that the onset of Alzheimer's Disease only occurs in old age as people may be diagnosed in their 40s.
- Dementia is already the single-greatest cause of disability in those aged 65 and over.