York embraces dementia-friendly town initiative

Alzheimer's WA chief executive Rhonda Parker (back from left) with York Shire President David Wallace, Balladong Lodge Facility Manager Sarah Newbon and York Councillors Denese Smythe and Jane Ferro.
Alzheimer's WA chief executive Rhonda Parker (back from left) with York Shire President David Wallace, Balladong Lodge Facility Manager Sarah Newbon and York Councillors Denese Smythe and Jane Ferro.

YORK is on its way to becoming one of Australia’s first dementia-friendly towns.

The Dementia Friendly Communities project driven by Alzheimer’s WA aims to reduce stigma and foster a community supportive of people living with dementia.

Chief executive officer Rhonda Parker said York people had embraced the project with the community spirit often found in country towns.

“I am so heartened by the stories I’m hearing since the project was introduced a few months ago, including retail staff from the local IGA who learnt the skills needed to identify and assist a local woman living with younger onset dementia who became lost in an aisle.”

Residential care facility Balladong Lodge hosted community dementia training workshops supported by WA Country Health Service and York Pharmacy, Botanicalia Caf and IGA participated in one-on-one training sessions at their premises.

York has more people aged over 65 than the state average and last year the Shire developed an age friendly community plan.

Corporate and Community Services Manager Suzie Haslehurst said while developing the plan, Alzheimer’s WA contacted the Shire about its Dementia Friendly Communities project.

“The Shire entered into a partnership with Alzheimer’s WA to promote dementia training for local businesses and to facilitate the upgrade of public toilets at Avon Park with dementia-friendly signage and colours, which will be undertaken during 2018/19 as part of the Avon Park upgrade.”

Alzheimer’s WA local representative Heather Bates sits on the Shire’s Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee and was involved in development of a new disability access and inclusion plan.

For advice and support on dementia, call the Alzheimer’s WA helpline on 1300 66 77 88.

The Facts

Dementia is the leading cause of death of women in Australia, and the second

leading cause of death of all Australians

There is no cure

41,149 people are living with dementia in WA

This figure is predicted to increase to more than 84,000 people in less

than twenty years and almost 150,000 people by 2056

Sources

NATSEM calculations using Australian Bureau of Statistics population projections

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Stigma linked to a dementia diagnosis includes:

Friends stop visiting, ‘they don’t know what to say or do around a person with dementia’

People with dementia are ignored by others around them

People with dementia are aggressive, and have problems interacting socially

Retail staff are rude and impatient with customers who have dementia’

Aged care and retail staff are not trained to deal with dementia.