Dementia support widely available in Wimmera region

STAWELL - With so many services available throughout the region, Wimmera residents living with dementia are well equipped to receive vital support.

This was the message delivered to Stawell and district residents by dementia advocate Sue Pieters-Hawke, during an address at the Stawell Entertainment Centre.

During her tour of the Wimmera, Ms Pieters-Hawke spoke about dementia and shared her experiences of caring for her mother, Hazel Hawke.

The national ambassador for Alzheimer's Australia and co-chair of the Federal Dementia Advisory Group, Ms Pieters-Hawke said the Wimmera was well resourced compared to some areas she had visited.

"I guess if you were going to be diagnosed with having dementia, the Grampians region would be the best place for it to happen," she said tongue in cheek during the address.

There are a range of services available through Grampians Community Health to support people living with dementia and alzheimers.

Services assist residents with memory loss, or changes to their thinking, while help is also available for the people who support sufferers.

Ms Pieters-Hawke said the biggest challenge she faced as a dementia advocate, was breaking down the barriers and changing the way people thought about dementia.

Ms Pieters-Hawke said there were more than 100 causes of dementia, with Alzheimers being the most well known.

She said she hoped to take the negativity away from dementia and help people become better-informed.

"We all want to feel useful in life and have the sense of self-worth and respect that comes with that," she said.

Ms Pieters-Hawke advised those attending the Entertainmnent Centre that Alzheimer's Australia had two campaigns operating, including a 'Your Brain Matters' campaign to educate people on how they could maximise brain health.

Following her address, Ms Pieters-Hawke answered a number of questions from the public and spoke highly of the services available throughout the Grampians and Wimmera regions to support people living with dementia.

Alzheimer's Australia dementia consultant Glenda Hipwell accompanied Ms Pieters-Hawke to Stawell and said many people with dementia were afraid to take the first step and seek assistance.

Ms Hipwell, who is based at Ballarat, said it was important for people to recognise that help was only a phone call away.

She said a good starting point for people with dementia, their families and carers was to call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

People can also visit Grampians Community Health for information. A referral can be provided by a general practitioner, or self referral is another option available.

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