Raising the awareness of dementia

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Two out of every three New Zealanders are touched by dementia in some way.
Sixty-thousand Kiwis have dementia, and that figure is expected to nearly triple by 2050.
Sixty-thousand Kiwis have dementia, and that figure is expected to nearly triple by 2050. From talking to constituents I know how debilitating this disease is, and how its effects are widereaching, changing lives forever.
This month is World Alzheimer’s Month, which in New Zealand is focused on raising awareness of this disease, helping to create more dementia-friendly communities and giving a voice to people living with dementia.
While a giant sculpture has been erected in Auckland to raise awareness of the month, locally it was a pleasure to host a morning tea at the old bowling clubrooms in the Timaru Botanical Gardens, now known as the Park Centre.
Alzheimer’s South Canterbury president Diane Nutsford and her team have wrought miracles in fundraising and pulling together community goodwill and support to refurbish the rooms into a community centre for non-profit groups.
Local tradespeople donated time and working bees were held in order to get the project under way, making it a true community centre. The renovation was done with the goal of providing a space to be used to reduce social isolation, which is often a huge barrier for those living with dementia.
MEMORY WALK
To further raise awareness and support people affected by dementia, I will be attending the memory walk to be held in Timaru this Saturday, starting at 11am at the Timaru Botanic Gardens.
Memory walks help us to raise awareness of dementia in our communities, and they provide an opportunity to remember family members and friends we know or have known, living with dementia.
STROKE CAMPAIGN
Speaking of raising awareness, it is also excellent to see that the recent national campaign highlighting the signs of a stroke and the need for prompt action is already making a difference in our community.
Every year roughly 9000 people in New Zealand have a stroke, where early identification and treatment is vital to the outcome.
The Fast campaign, which stands for Face, Arm, Speech and Time, identifies the key indicators of a stroke and emphasises the need for swift action.
As a result of this campaign, calls to St John regarding possible strokes have risen by 40 a week and frontline staff report that people are coming into ED saying they have seen the Fast campaign which prompted them to act.
In this last week I have heard of this campaign making a difference for a constituent. It is positive to hear how this is making a lasting difference in our community.
Jo Goodhew is the National MP for Rangitata.