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Help is at hand for those with a diagnosis of dementia

They say in life the first step is often the hardest. Whether it’s starting a new relationship or ending one, going for your first job interview or re-entering the workforce after a long absence, taking those first few physical or metaphorical steps can be daunting. And no matter how old we get, in life there are always more ‘firsts’ to experience. Some are positive, and some not so.

When it comes to a diagnosis of dementia, there can be many ‘firsts’ that a person has to face and often these can look and feel like insurmountable hurdles.

These could be… acknowledging to yourself that perhaps there might be something more going on than just occasional forgetfulness. Discussing your concerns with your partner or a loved one. Speaking with your GP. Receiving an actual diagnosis. Deciding who to share that diagnosis with. Accepting that some early intervention or support services may be helpful. Finding the appropriate support services…. the list goes on.

A diagnosis of dementia can come as a shock even if it has been long suspected. Many people tell me once they receive a diagnosis they just don’t know what to do next. They are unsure what that next step is.

No matter where you are on the journey, there are organisations that can help. People often say to me, “I wish I had known about your organisation sooner,” or “I wish I had asked for support earlier”. It is because of this that I share with you today a little about one of the services that Alzheimer’s WA offers.

The Dementia Advisory Service at Alzheimer’s WA is one of the ways we can help a person with a diagnosis of dementia, and their carer or loved one, work out what their next steps might be.

It is a non-threatening way to start to find out a bit more, to help ease any anxiety or stress a person may be feeling about their diagnosis, or about some of the changes they may be experiencing. It is also a free service, and although some eligibility criteria apply, setting up an appointment is as simple as giving us a call.

One of our trained and experienced staff can come to your home for an hour or two, anywhere in the metropolitan area, and give you information on supports and services that may be available to you now and into the future. They are also there to answer any questions you may have.

Our staff get asked all sorts of questions, from “what does my diagnosis mean?”, to “what is this particular type of dementia?”, to “if there’s no cure, then what else can I do?”. Many people want to know what support is available, not only for the person with the diagnosis, but also for their partner and loved ones.

We also often receive feedback from people to say how thankful they are for our help. One recent comment stands out in my mind, and I will share it with you today. It was, “How fortunate we have been to have such a lovely person come to our home to help us navigate what was a totally devastating diagnosis. You have lightened the load considerably. Thank you.”. It is words like this that remind me why it is we continue to do the important work we do.

Although the Dementia Advisory Service is for people diagnosed over the age of 65, we have a similar service available for younger people who are diagnosed with dementia. For people living outside of the metropolitan area, where a personal visit is not practical, we can talk through your options on the phone. If you or someone you know is living with dementia, give us a call and we can help you take the first step towards living well with dementia.

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