Breaking down barriers

RESIDENTS, staff and volunteers at a local residential aged care facility are hoping to break down the stigma associated
with dementia, through an art project supporting Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Awareness Month.

An art installation featuring 100 wooden miniature, purple human shapes will be on display on Eldercare Evanston Park’s
front lawn throughout September, as part of the initiative.

Eldercare Evanston Park Chaplain Maria Kemp said the figurines – which include descriptions of the jobs and roles of the artists who painted them – are designed to show that individuals living with dementia have their own identities, and should not be defined by their dementia.

“We want them to identify as people with skills, that they’re active members of the community – we forget that,” Mrs
Kemp said.

“If you look out and read people’s jobs – they’re engineers, they’re proud mums, truck drivers, publicans – they all succeeded with what they wanted, and their dreams, and they were positive members of the community, and that’s what it’s about.”

The installation is just one of several activities being held at aged care facilities across the region for Dementia Awareness Month – the theme for which, this year, is ‘You are not alone’.

The campaign aims to break down community attitudes towards the condition, which is estimated to affect 413,000
Australians and is the country’s second-leading cause of death.

Eldercare Evanston Park lifestyle co-ordinator Lee-Anne Chenoweth said the art project involved family members, staff and volunteers, and residents – no matter if they had dementia, or not.

“At times, we find that it can be challenging to visit (residents with dementia), for family members,” she said.

“The more that people know about it, and our community breaks down the barriers in their awareness, the less scared people will be.

“People should know that they are not alone, and they should reach out for support.

“It’s very important, because it’s not a journey that you have to make by yourself; it’s a journey that you can share, and ask questions along the way.”

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Matteo Gagliardi joined The Bunyip in August 2016 with almost two years experience in regional print media, having previously worked at a community newspaper in Swan Hill, Victoria. Covering politics, local government and crime, Matteo likes to sink his teeth into hard-hitting issues, but also enjoys spending time getting to know the Gawler community. Matteo also has a passion for science, agriculture and the environment, and has previously worked as a media officer at the Australian Science Media Centre.

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