Dementia is the second largest cause of Australian deaths, the third largest for men and the largest for women. ABS, Sept 2017. On Thursday, 9th November at the CWA Hall, Nambour between 10 am and 12 noon staff will assist community members with information on dementia and services. Speakers from Noosa Inc will speak about diet, the Maggie Beer way and adaptive equipment from Bromilow Home Support Services.
All are welcomed to this free community event. Information can be seen on the Sunshine Coast Dementia Network website: www.scdementia.com.au Dementia is a frightening word especially for many senior citizens. For many, dementia conjures up the debilitating aspects of loss.
Ask Vince O’Rourke who cared for his wife of 40 years. Margaret was diagnosed at 59 years of age with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. The neurologist said it was rampant and within 12 months she did not know who he was. With the loss of her memory, daily functioning and loss of thinking ability her safety became an issue and Vince prematurely retired to care for her. He was not only her husband and family carer but also her Enduring Power of Attorney.
The roles were distinct as he did not know that his love as a husband would be challenged as he daily had caring tasks of feeding, dressing, toileting and showering his wife. He had to communicate totally for her and make decisions for finances and ensure she had the best health care. But there wasn’t a great deal of support for him.
The current carer’s payment and carer’s allowance is not enough. He believes a “carer package” is needed to ensure that the carer’s needs and health were considered in this journey of the long goodbye.
Family carers save the government and tax payers billions each year since, if they did not care for their loved one at home, they would be placed in permanent care. As part of this package, counselling, respite, training and help with job search would assist those family carers to return to the workforce post-care.
Vince and his current wife, Lorrae facilitate as volunteers the Sunshine Coast Dementia Network which assists people with dementia and their family carers and staff to have an avenue for an exchange of information and other support. On the Sunshine Coast service providers offer assistance with information. Carers Queensland hosts a family carer Support Group meeting and gives counselling and advocacy. Suncare operates the Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre to support with respite needs especially emergency respite. Other organisations offer in home support for respite, social needs, nursing, showering and domestic assistance.
There are a range of service providers such as Bromilow Home Support Services, Blue Care, Anglicare, Sundale, Suncare, Home Instead, Noosa Care and In Your Home. Respite day centres are operated by a number of organisations including Blue Care, Range Care, Nambour, Noosa and Maroochydore Day Respite Centres. These services can be accessed via My Aged Care website. Many of these service providers meet every second month to network and listen to speakers.
Vince and Lorrae open their family home, Carers Outlook at Nambour, to care for the family carer. They support the carer to return to their caring role with a positive outlook. As Vince learnt, there were positives as he was given a gift which was to show commitment of his love by caring for his wife.
Community members, who want dementia information, support or to know about services will find the Sunny Coast Dementia Network a valuable resource.