A very warm welcome back to the wonderful Chris Roberts, who has written some fantastic blogs for us before which you can read here. In this post, he tells us about his travels to Australia to attend the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference, sharing his insights and the memories made in the process.
This week marks Dementia Awareness Week in England and Wales. You can find out more about this awareness week and what you can do to get involved on the Alzheimer’s Society website here.
Thanks again to Chris, we’re so pleased to be able to share an update on the wonderful work he’s doing, raising awareness all year round.
One important thing about having dementia is making memories !
Which we definitely did in May of this year, we travelled half way across the world to visit Australia and the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference, 2015 in Perth with my wife and daughter.
One of the outstanding things about this conference that sets it apart from other international conferences was the attendance of people with a Diagnosis of a dementia, nearly 10% ! 81 delegates with a diagnosis ! 15 of them were speakers, including myself, I was representing The Alzheimer’s Society UK, the UK’s leading and largest Charity, who I have to thank for the help with funding to attend this very important conference, and Dementia Alliance International, an International group comprising exclusively of people with dementia, who advocate and provide services for people with dementia.
Dementia Alliance International has recently partnered with Alzheimer’s Disease International.
Nearly 50 countries were represented at the conference over a period of three days and the same number of presentations were heard, these comprised of ;
The ‘lived experience’
The importance of song, music and dance
Employment regarding dementia
Disability and human rights
Dementia friendly communities
And much more.
I met some virtual friends from social media, such as Kate Swaffer and her husband Pete, Truthful Kindness and her husband Guy, Lynda Henderson and her partner Veda, Mick Carmody and his wife Sue, John Sandblom and Colin McDonnell along with lots of others. It was great to see my friend and fellow dementia advocate Helga Rohera again, she’s the chair of the Europe working Group.
I had the great pleasure of finally meeting the CEO Of ADI, Marc Wortman, who was very helpful through the whole process of submitting an abstract to finally presenting in his workshop there.
One of the workshops we attended was about importance of supporting children of parents with Younger Onset Dementia. Where they spoke about kids as young as 10 years of age being affected by the disease, don’t forget that when a diagnosis of dementia is given, it’s given to the whole family as a unit and even affects friends.
My daughter, who at 17 years old, was the youngest delegate there had a few things to say about this herself !
A very successful conference in all, we heard and learnt a lot!
We then left there and stayed with Kate Swaffer in Adelaide at her home, where we recovered as was very tired after the conference. The highlight of our visit to Adelaide was a trip to the local park to see and pet kangaroo’s and where my daughter held a koala! A fantastic day !
From there we travelled across country to Sydney accompanied by Kate Swaffer and
our good friend Dr.Shibley Rahman, where we met up with Lynda and Veda, more friends from social media ! We had a couple of days out and some fabulous meals in the evening, they were all great company and some lovely memories were made again !
We then took a plane to Ayers Rock, stayed in a beautiful complex near to the rock its self. We went out to the rock to watch the colour changes at sunset and had a meal out in the desert !
You can’t put a price on memories and who says your life is over once you have a diagnosis, I may have dementia but it certainly does not have me….. Yet