Even a little walk or jog can make a big difference

Grant McBride Memory Walk entrants in 2019

The Grant McBride Memory Walk and Jog will be held for the fourth year during Dementia Action Week from September 20 to 26.

The event is being organised by Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma of dementia, which is the second leading cause of death in Australia right behind heart disease.

Like 2020, the Grant McBride Memory Walk and Jog will be held as a virtual, online event because of COVID-19 restrictions, but McBride is hoping people will still get involved.

“This is a cause that’s very close to my heart,” she said.

“I lost my Dad, Grant, to Younger Onset Dementia when he was just 68 years old, and in my early 20s I lost my Grandma to dementia.

“I made a promise to my Mum that I would do everything I could to help people living with dementia and those who care for them,” McBride said.

You can walk, jog, ride a bike, do any exercise wherever you possibly can think of on September 25, but remember to follow the COVID restrictions.

Some ideas are to walk around your neighbourhood, do a virtual workout at home or keep active by cleaning the house or gardening – all you have to do is sign up.

“This year people living with dementia and those who care for them are even more isolated because of lockdown, so I’m encouraging Coasties to get behind this important cause,” McBride said.

Dementia Action Week is a national awareness campaign aimed at discussing discrimination and dementia, and this year’s theme is that a little support makes a big difference.

This week aims to increase understanding about dementia and how everyone can make a difference to the lives of people around them impacted by dementia, and to help eliminate discrimination.

There are over 472,000 Australians living with dementia, including 6,000 on the Central Coast and about 20,000 involved in their care.

Dementia Australia CEO, Maree McCabe, said there were many meaningful ways that a little support could make a big difference to the everyday experience of people living with dementia and their carers.

“Once a person is diagnosed there is a common perception that they have a complete loss of function and independence when there is a wealth of evidence that shows people living with dementia, with good support, can live active and fulfilling lives for many years,” McCabe said.

“Our research shows that people living with dementia and carers experience discrimination that can lead to social isolation, loneliness and poor mental health.

“People living with dementia report that social invitations and inclusions start to dwindle.

“Carers report feeling they no longer have the support of family or friends when the reality is often people close to them withdraw not knowing how to help or not wanting to intrude.

“Often the discriminatory behaviour is unintended and rather a result of a lack of awareness and understanding about dementia.

“The restrictions and lockdowns of COVID-19 have exacerbated these experiences for people living with dementia and carers.

“We need to change this experience for people impacted by dementia and Dementia Action Week is one way to start inspiring the community to act and to learn more, to understand how their words, behaviour and responses can make a difference to the lives of people living with dementia and carers,” McCabe said.

Harry Mulholland

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