24 April 2018
Younger Onset Dementia – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Wendy Hughes
What happens when you lose your memories? What do you value when this loss reframes how you’ve lived, and how you will live in the future? How do you conceive of love when you can no longer recognise those who are supposed to mean the most to you? This is what Wendy Mitchell was confronted with when she was diagnosed with dementia at 58 years old, and what she wrote about in ‘Somebody I Used to Know.’
Younger onset dementia affects around 26,500 people in Australia and there is a higher proportion of males. This figure continues to rise. Compared to older people, those with younger onset dementia (YOD) are usually in good physical health being fit and mobile. They need services that meet their physical and social needs and activity-based programs in small groups with their peers, or services on a one-to-one basis. As providers of support services, Interchange Australia consultants draw on the experiences of the person with dementia and their carer, about the kinds of activities to encourage interaction, enjoyment and engagement. As is often said by allied health specialists, living in the moment is very important.
We all need to be aware that those with YOD have had to somehow say goodbye to the person they once used to be. It may be a demanding career, their ability to drive, many parts of their independence that are suddenly gone. Their carer’s and family are often confused, grieving and definitely stressed. As service providers and support workers we all need to be mindful of the many faces of stress and a myriad of emotions. We all need to work together to provide the best and most suitable support for these clients in the time they are in our care and treat them with dignity and respect.
For more information about support services Interchange Australia provides for people with younger onset dementia, please call 1300 112 334.
For more information about Younger Onset Dementia, please visit the Dementia Australia website.