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05 June 2012

Dementia can impact on marriage istock8325225A seminar designed to increase knowledge and understanding of dementia and provide some positive messages around coping with the condition will be held at the University of South Australia this month.

The ‘Living positively with dementia’ seminar is being held as part of UniSA’s Successful Ageing seminar series and is a free event for the community.

It will feature three speakers, including UniSA Honours student Kate Swaffer who will share her personal story as someone diagnosed with early onset dementia.

UniSA Senior Lecturer from the School of Nursing and Midwifery Dr David Evans will present findings from his research about the challenges faced by people with dementia, while Sarah Hennessy Mead from Alzheimer’s Australia SA will outline what dementia is, the early signs, what can be done to help and strategies to keep the brain as healthy as possible. 

Dr Evans is currently studying the impact of dementia on marriage, as well as living alone with dementia. He says dementia presents a whole range of challenges for a married couple.

“Many changes accompany dementia and the spouse starts to feel that their partner is almost becoming a different person, and they feel they’re losing their partner,” Dr Evans says.

“Often in the older age demographic people have more fixed roles, with the man doing the bills and handy man type jobs, and the woman taking care of the cooking and cleaning. When dementia is in the marriage the healthy partner has to step up and take on the role of the other person too, and there can be a lot of stress in that.” 

Dr Evans says for people living alone, safety is one of the important concerns.

“They might go shopping, get lost, and no-one knows, or they might lock themselves out of the house,” he says.

“Some people living alone with dementia are concerned they’ll be taken from their home, so they try to hide their dementia from their family. Others withdraw into their home away from the rest of the world. But there are of course people who have dementia and live alone successfully with the support of community based services.”

The seminar will be held at UniSA’s City West Campus in the Barbara Hanrahan Building (ground floor lecture theatre), on Friday June 22 from 2pm to 4pm. This is a free event but registration is essential – please phone (08) 8302 0160 or email giving@unisa.edu.au 

Media contact: Kelly Stone office 8302 0963 mobile 0417 861 832 email Kelly.stone@unisa.edu.au

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