Victoria needs dementia-friendly communities

dementia-friendly communities: older hand held by younger hands

Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria has called for funding for the development of six dementia-friendly communities across Victoria over the next three years.

The call comes as part of a white paper which outlines the social and economic advantages of dementia-friendly communities. The paper was launched at the biannual Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Dementia meeting at Parliament House in Victoria.

The paper focuses on what makes a dementia-friendly community, as well as the benefits to people, business, tourism and the health budget. It also offers advice on how people, organisations and public spaces can become more dementia-friendly.

The event was co-convened by Gabrielle Williams, Member for Dandenong and Parliamentary Secretary for Carers and Volunteers Emma Kealy, Member for Lowan.

Attendees heard how a 12-month dementia-friendly community project in Beechworth, Victoria is already being piloted by Alzheimer’s Australia Vic in partnership with The Indigo Health Consortium and the Municipal Association of Victoria.

The core objectives of the pilot involve increasing community awareness and understanding of dementia, expanding social networks, improving access to local facilities such as transport, shops and cafes, and improving the physical environment.

Maree McCabe, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic CEO, says that people living with dementia are among society’s most vulnerable and that following a diagnosis, many people experience social isolation.

“With our population ageing and dementia now the second leading cause of death in Australia, now is the time to ready Victoria for this growing challenge,” says McCabe.

“Increasing society’s understanding of what it is like to live with a cognitive impairment and improving the accessibility of a community’s physical environment is beneficial to the entire population.

“The intention of launching the white paper at Parliament House was to demonstrate to Members the importance of dementia-friendly principles, to inspire them to think about how they might adopt these principles in their own electorates and to provide the support needed to create more dementia-friendly communities across Victoria,” she says.

Williams and Kealy congratulated Alzheimer’s Australia Vic on its development of the “informative and thought-provoking” paper.

“Our hope is that it encourages us all to think about the practical ways we can make a difference to the lives of Victorians living with dementia, their families and carers,” they said in a joint statement.

Currently, there are more than 81,000 people living with dementia in Victoria. That figure is projected to increase to more than 246,000 by 2050.

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