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Alzheimer's Parliamentary Speech

Click here to read my speech following up from the seniors form I held recently in the community. 

Mr WINGARD ( Mitchell ) ( 15:48 ): I rise today to speak about my role as a dementia champion for Alzheimer's Australia SA. Along with my staff, I organised a forum in Reynella to facilitate connecting community members with information and services available to people living with dementia and their families. It was also an opportunity to promote dementia-friendly communities, a term used to describe making our local areas more friendly and inclusive to people with dementia.

I will mention a few statistics about dementia. Interestingly, dementia is the second biggest killer of people in Australia. One in three people over the age of 60 will develop dementia. Sixty per cent will not get dementia and therefore it is very much worth looking after your health, giving yourself a healthy lifestyle with a good diet, exercise and sleep and keeping an active mind. If you have any concerns about dementia, the local service number to call is 1800 100 500 (that is the national helpline) or visit the website fightdementia.org.au.

In my electorate of Mitchell, 700 people live with dementia and 2,500 people are impacted by dementia. At the forum we held we had a wonderful speaker who I know has also spoken at a group with the member for Bright. His name is Barrie Anderson and he lives in Warradale. He is a primary carer for his loving wife who has dementia.

He shared several key points on his firsthand experience. In brief, his touching presentation stressed the importance of having a good network of professional and social support groups, having a good sleep pattern and a good sense of humour, being involved in educating the public about dementia and being open to developing new skills. He also told a heart-wrenching story about the bag of diamonds he would carry, which was his way of communicating with his wife. It was a truly touching speech.

The second speaker was Andrew Ramsey from Alzheimer's Australia SA. He outlined key services that are important within the organisation, ranging from one-on-one support for people living with dementia and their families to offering a public resource library supporting research and providing public education programs to the wider community.

The third speaker was Phil Saunders, also from Alzheimer's Australia SA. He focused on how we can support dementia-friendly communities. The importance of people living with dementia being able to remain connected and not isolated from society is crucial. Being dementia friendly could be as simple as increasing awareness amongst local community groups and clubs, or it could be making changes to local infrastructure and signage.

There are five simple steps to maximise your brain health: (1) look after your health; (2) do some kind of physical exercise; (3) mentally challenge your brain; (4) follow a healthy diet; and (5) enjoy social activity. I would sincerely like to thank the Reynella Neighbourhood Centre and Alzheimer's Australia SA for supporting the forum and making it happen. I would also like to thank Maryanne Noon, who is head of engagement and external relations with Alzheimer's Australia SA, and Kathryn Quintel, who is the CEO of Alzheimer's Australia SA.

There were a number of people who came along to the forum and I must thank them for attending. We had more than 40 people registered to come to the forum but, given the time of year with flu season lurking, there were a few late apologies, and we hope those people are feeling a heck of a lot better. However, for everyone who came along, they said they got plenty out of the forum and it was a delight to put it on.

There are a few people I would like to mention who did go to the trouble of coming along and really took something away from the forum: Cathryn Thurston, Trevor Hayley and Bryan Ford. Betty Anderson came along with Linda Irvine, who is from the Grandview village in Trott Park, and they were a delight to catch up with. We are really keen to go back to the Grandview village and have a further chat with them about dementia and dementia-friendly societies, and also a bit more about Alzheimer's SA. Donald and Elise Holt came along as well from Trott Park, which was outstanding. Colin and Ann Nichol also attended, and it was great to have them there as well.

Merilyn Russell has been a wonderful supporter and has a business on South Road at Reynella. She is a mobility specialist and she was a great supporter of the event as well. Valerie Wade also made it along, which was fantastic. There were a number of other people who were there, but we really did appreciate all the support we had from the Alzheimer's Australia SA group. We did really enjoy the morning and especially having Barrie speak to the rest of the group.

I would like to take the opportunity to repeat that number again, if anyone is having any issues with Alzheimer's and/or dementia. The number is 1800 100 500, which is the national helpline, and the website is fightdementia.org.au.

24 hour office Community Survey