As a finalist of the Dementia Change Champion Program at Alzheimer’s WA I was invited to attend the inaugural event of Parliamentary Friends of people living with Dementia. The aim of the Group is to ensure members of the WA Parliament have an awareness of dementia and knowledge of organisations and people who can assist them as dementia-related issues come to their attention.
Through this program the aim is to raise awareness of dementia, advocate for better support and care, and promote the current research into the potential breakthrough in therapies.
Several people spoke at the event including Mark McGowan then Premier, Chris Tallentire MLA, Prof. Warren Harding, chair of Alzheimer’s WA and the daughter of family member advocating for a parent living with dementia.
The event was relaxed and informal. We were encouraged to mingle and chat. I managed to have several conversations to quite a few people about a broad range of issues. Chris Tallentire and I chatted with a lovely couple who were navigating their way through the aged care system to find support, the challenges they had faced and where they were at currently.
I also spoke to a professor of research at UWA looking at technologies in eye and blood testing. The aim of the research is for early detection and then better help to tackle the risk factors which impact the speed of decline of people living with dementia. There were organisations looking to raise awareness for funds they were needing and philanthropists looking for opportunities to support organisations in need of funds. It was an incredible mix of people.
By the end of the evening, I could sense that the aim had been to try and engage as many people as possible and raise awareness with politicians as broadly as possible.
What impacted me most was the couple I chatted to at length, a lady living with dementia and her husband. As we all went home, I sensed that as my evening was ending and I could go home and relax and chat about this event and unwind, they would be going home also late in the evening and his support and care would be much needed on-going and possibly late into the evening. Their attendance and commitment to sharing their experience was welcomed and very much appreciated.
- Rise, Program Coordinator Caroline Beales