It is because about 244 Australians each day are joining the population with dementia, making it the second leading cause of death of Australian men and women that the Berry Men’s Shed held a health talk to highlight the importance of openly discussing health issues which affect the community.
“It is very important we destigmatise dementia and look at it as a normal degenerative brain disease,” Alzheimer’s Australia project officer Stuart Torrance said.
“It’s something that needs to be challenged and embraced from a community perspective.
“We need to walk this walk with the people who have it and the people who are dealing with it and we need to support them and uplift them, just like we’ve done to destigmatise prostate cancer and breast cancer, all those sorts of things have come out of the closet and we talk about them openly.”
Mr Torrance said it was important people were not treated differently because they had the disease.
“These people still have thoughts, they still have dreams, they still have passions they want to pursue and achieve in their life,” he said.
“What could be more beneficial than a community which supports and looks after everybody within it.”
Mr Torrance offers talks at Men’s Sheds around NSW and has helped develop a book tailored around the organisation, ‘Your shed and dementia – A manual’.
“I look after men’s health and we’ve written the Men’s Shed manual to engage men with dementia and male careers of someone with dementia,” Mr Torrance said.
“Men on the whole don’t look after themselves, we don’t think it’s an important thing for us to do.”
Berry Men’s Shed member David Merrington started to organise the health talks after he saw the lack of understanding men had about their well-being.
“I was an optometrist and so when I would talk to a patient and ask them what their blood pressure was like, the men would say I don’t know,” Mr Merrington said.
“There was a lot of ignorance, so I started these health talks here, we’ve spoken about prostate cancer, nutrition with Rosemary Stanton and a whole range of things that affect men and women, but men don’t want to talk about it.”
For more information visit https://nsw.fightdementia.org.au/ or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.