Dementia sufferers, carers will soon find support at community centre

Murray Bridge Community Centre has won funding to create a supportive space for people living with dementia.

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Dementia affects about one in 50 South Australians, including hundreds of Murray Bridge residents.

But there are too few specialist services for people living with the brain disorder, Jade Porter and Sarah Smith say.

They’re about to change that.

The directors of Murray Bridge Community Centre have just won a $40,000 grant to create a comfortable, welcoming space for people with dementia and their carers.

Ms Smith said she hoped to open a community cafe where conversations could start and connections could be made.

“Those who are connected with someone with dementia will be able to come to the centre, have a coffee and a chat and a support session,” she said.

“It’s going to benefit both those living with dementia and caring for someone with dementia.”

She also hoped the centre would be able to teach local businesses about how to be more welcoming to people with dementia – for example, by having clearly labelled entries and exits, and not making their premises too cluttered with noises and sights.

“A significant proportion of our population is going to experience (dementia),” she said.

“If we can help, good.”

Another four organisations elsewhere around South Australia will also share in $200,000 worth of state-funded Positive Ageing Fellowship Grants.

The director of the state Office for Ageing Well, Cassie Mason, said each would offer older South Australians a way to get involved in social activities that would contribute to their wellbeing and reduce social isolation.

Dementia is more common over the age of 65, according to Dementia Australia.

Almost one in 10 people in that age group lives with symptoms of dementia, including trouble thinking, behavioural changes and difficulties performing certain tasks; and 30 per cent of over-85s.

Dementia comes in various forms, and though no prevention or cure exists at present, medication can reduce the symptoms.

  • More information: Visit www.dementia.org.au or call the National Dementia Hotline on 1800 100 500.