13 February 2020
Craig has younger onset dementia and resides in an aged care facility until he is able to transfer to a more suitable home. Unfortunately, for someone with younger onset dementia this can be really challenging for their mental health, as this is a person who is young, able and still wanting to enjoy their life. Living in an aged care facility with people who are significantly older than themselves and unable to do the things they like to do can create a feeling of loneliness which can be difficult to combat.
Interchange Australia support worker Ron meets with Craig regularly and takes him out to many local places to help with keeping him active, mentally and physically, as well as offering friendship. They have many discussions about a variety of topics including making plans on where their next adventure will be.
People with younger onset dementia have differing needs to those over 65, as they are likely to still be physically and socially active at the time of their diagnosis. Adjusting to changes, especially loss of self-esteem and a purpose in their life is common, so regular social interaction and stimulation is very important to their general wellbeing.
Ron provides a lot of Craig’s support and has shared some snippets of their time together. “Craig and I discussed having a photograph taken on the “Bear Seat” on a previous visit to the MacArthur Square. I told him on the morning this photo was taken that, amongst other activities and places, we would go back to the ‘Square and take a photo on the “Bear Seat”. Craig was quite excited at the prospect of our visit, and was telling various staff at the care facility what we were planning to do. Craig is often already waiting either outside the lift or at reception when I arrive to collect him.
I like to ask him where he would like to go, as he finds most places and activities enjoyable. We visit the Narellan Town Centre, some of the local sights and at Camden we have discovered a cute little 1950’s American-style café. The café owner, Margaret, often chats and we sit and listen to her stories which Craig really enjoys.
A Book Exchange shop in Camden has become a favourite place and Craig enjoys talking to Diane, the owner, and often just likes to browse in there. He has become more confident with access to the community and is genuinely happy to socially interact. We take short “tours” through the suburbs and, on some occasions, through the Mt. Annan Gardens.
At present, Craig is resistant to traveling on the train, however, Ron is hoping to gradually work with Craig and encourage him to travel by rail so they may enjoy some other adventures further afield.
With Ron’s support, we hope that Craig can continue to enjoy many more years of going to new places and discovering new things. Keeping his mind and body active helps make more things manageable.
If you have a loved one with dementia, know that there is social support available. If it helps to make things just that little bit easier for everyone, then why not give it a try?
To find out more about the services you can access for dementia, please contact our office on 02 4868 6688 or email us at [email protected] or you can also visit our website: www.interchangeau.org