More than 10 years ago, Wollongong resident Val Fell noticed changes in her husband’s personality that signalled a problem.
“[Ian] held a respectable position in the community for 17 years, but he started to show signs of changes,” Ms Fell said.
“He didn’t want to do certain things that he always wanted to beforehand. He became a lot quieter and started to forget things more often.”
Along with memory loss, Ms Fell said these were the first signs of dementia – a disease that currently affects more than 383,000 Australians.
Having cared for her husband for a number of years, Ms Fell now actively tries to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s within the Illawarra and support others living with the condition.
“I have continued to work as a volunteer within Dementia Carers Groups in Wollongong,” she said.
“I’m also involved with Alzheimer’s Australia NSW Consumer Advisory Group for the Illawarra, and we have created a public forum network.”
For Dementia Awareness Month, the Illawarra Public Forum Planning Group and Alzheimer’s Australia are hosting ‘Still Dementia in a Changing World Illawarra’ – a free public forum for anyone affected by dementia on September 7.
Ms Fell said the event will help the community to build a greater understanding of Alzheimer’s and encourages all those interested in learning more to attend.
“There will be a number of speakers on the day, including someone who is living with dementia talking about their experience,” she said.
“[This year] the focus is on the fact that things are changing. We will have people there that will talk about all the types of Alzheimer’s as dementia is only one, and how people can be helped with that. As well as that, we will be talking about technological aids.”
The general manager services for Alzheimer’s Australia Susan McCarthy, the manager of education services Danielle White and carer Terry McLafferty are among those speaking at the forum.
It will be held at the Wests Illawarra club in Unanderra from 10am to 2.30pm.
To register, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Val Fell on 4229 5926. Gold coin donations are welcome at the event.
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