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National Dementia Conference puts a spotlight on dementia and Alzheimer’s

With the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the National Dementia Conference, held in Melbourne on 15 - 16 May, is a topical event to look into dementia and the change needed to better care and understand people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

On the 15-16 May, the National Dementia Conference will be held in Melbourne covering important topics around dementia and Alzheimer's. [Source: Shutterstock]
On the 15-16 May, the National Dementia Conference will be held in Melbourne covering important topics around dementia and Alzheimer's. [Source: Shutterstock]

Now in its 10th year, the conference has become an important national platform for medical professionals, carers, researchers, aged-care workers, and policymakers.

The two-day program brings together experts in the field to discuss best-practice strategies and ways to improve quality person-centred care.

The event is a deep dive into the latest research around dementia and innovative therapies, treatments and technologies currently being implemented around the world.

Associate Professor Michael Woodward is one of the speakers for the conference and is currently undertaking trials of a new therapeutic approach that could cut cases of Alzheimer’s by 50 percent, which he will talk about further in his presentation.

“Despite decades of research, Alzheimer’s remains largely untreatable and incurable”, says Professor Woodward.

“To date more than 200 anti-Alzheimer’s drugs have been developed; yet the best of these have only a modest effect on symptoms and the remaining majority are altogether ineffective.

“This new therapeutic approach could delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s; and in those who already have the disease, slow down its pathology.”

Professor Woodward is especially excited to talk about this new therapy which is very different from other methods and techniques currently used to treat Alzheimer’s.

Another speaker for the event includes dementia advocate, John Roth, who will be speaking about the stereotypes and misperceptions that can cause more harm to people with the condition.

Mr Roth has Alzheimer’s disease, which was a life-changing diagnosis. He says his main loss was already dignity and the perception of himself by others around him.

“Rather than being judged for competency, suddenly the emphasis was on incompetence. Yet I am the same person with a thirst for knowledge, a strong social conscience, a love of debate and I just happen to have a condition called Alzheimer’s Disease,” says Mr Roth.

“Memory does not define a person. It is simply one of the tools mankind has to survive. But with the diagnosis of dementia, it is almost assumed that all other skill-sets have disappeared. They have not.

“I too have insight into my ability, or lack of these, and that self-doubt that this disease brings, reflects in my lack of trust in myself. Others, too, whether consciously or subconsciously, now have a loss of trust in my abilities. That, for any thinking adult, is the greatest pain of dementia – the loss of dignity, the loss of self-respect, the loss of the community worth of the “WHO I AM”.

Mr Roth says he wants to provide the insight he has, as someone with Alzheimer’s, to make the medical community understand the frustrations of the condition and the need to have a sense of dignity and self-respect sustained.

Other topics talked about at the conference include the use and abuse of medication in dementia, ethical decision making in established dementia, predictive cognitive decline and diagnosing dementia, managing pain for people with cognitive impairment, effective communication and engagement strategies, younger onset dementia, and much more.

Visit the website to learn more about the National Dementia Conference or to attend the event.

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