Good, bad and brilliant of dementia

Daughter of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Australia, Sue Pieters-Hawke, launched a booklet yesterday (Tuesday, 26 June 2012) at South Australia’s Resthaven on the perspectives of dementia.

Titled, ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Brilliant’, this project was funded by the federal government through the Dementia Community Support Grants Program and relates the personal experiences of being a carer of or as a person living with dementia.

The aim of the publication is to provide hope, inspiration and advice. The themes explored include the importance of home, of families and friends, and of remaining engaged with life.

As the title suggests, the stories explore the good, the bad and the brilliant events that occur while living life with dementia, or sharing life with someone who has dementia.

“I, like so many others, have personal experiences with dementia. We hope the booklet will also help raise awareness about dementia and reduce the stigma of people who live with it,” Resthaven chief executive, Richard Hearn, said.

Resthaven has 10 residential care locations and provides in home care and support services for older people living at home throughout metropolitan Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills, Murraylands, Riverland and the Limestone Coast.

“We are delighted that both Sue Pieters-Hawke and the CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, Glenn Rees, have agreed to speak at the launch, along with Kate Swaffer, an activist and advocate who lives with dementia,” he added.

According to Mr Hearn, most people understand dementia is a “cause close to Ms Pieters-Hawke’s heart”, as her mother, Hazel Hawke, lives with Alzheimer’s disease.

Ms Pieters-Hawke also has a personal connection to Resthaven as her grandfather, the Rev Clem Hawke, resided at Resthaven Malvern in the mid-1980s, during the time Bob Hawke was Prime Minister.

She said: “Like so many Australians, I have been closely touched by dementia, and as I read the personal stories in The Good, The Bad and The Brilliant, there were many things that resonated with my experience.”

Mr Rees, who has been Alzheimer’s Australia chief executive for more than a decade, said supporting people with dementia and their families and encouraging them to tell their stories  was perhaps the “most effective way” of achieving community understanding for people with dementia.

The Good, The Bad and The Brilliant is available for free download from the Resthaven website.