Bundy identified as future dementia hotspot
SITTING in the shade of a fig tree, more than a dozen people living with dementia and their carers gathered to take part in the Living Well With Dementia program.
Sandra and Rob Elliott were two of those gathered yesterday repotting snap dragons in to new pots which they could then take home.
Ms Elliott said Mr Elliott's memory had been deteriorating but in this group he was able to relax.
Ozcare and Bundaberg Regional Council led the gardening initiative as part of Dementia Action Week celebrated between September 16 and 22.
According to latest data the Federal Electorate of Hinkler will have the state's highest prevalence of dementia by 2050.
Research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics has found 3,619 people in the electorate are currently estimated to be living with dementia - with that figure predicted to almost triple to 12,023 in the next three decades.
Mr Elliott said his whole life was fishing all around Australia, whether it was with a line or diving, he loved it.
"If I couldn't go diving, I'd be line fishing and that was virtually every week," he said.
Ms Elliott said the group has provided friendships, understanding, support and a place of relaxation.
She said dementia awareness week was very important to her because she was learning how to care for someone with dementia and any education for the general public was a positive in her book.
Her advice for anyone as a carer is education, observation and get support from the likes of Ozcare.
"For caring with someone with dementia, learn everything you can possibly learn, because their nature changes, their thoughts change, the eating habits even change," she said.
Mr Elliott said you have to learn to eat and retaste food, for the first six months he had no taste in any way at all.
Ms Elliott said as his memory regresses she has been turning to something she's had since she was 19-years-old, a CWA cookbook.
Rob used to love sweet chilli but his memory isn't activated to the taste anymore, but "he can still mow a lawn as good as anyone".
Ozcare's Dementia Advisor Denise Hodder said gardening had many therapeutic benefits for everyone, but especially for people coping with the loss of memory and motor skills that can sometimes be part of having an illness like dementia.
"The process of planting a seedling is engaging for the senses, but it also allows them an opportunity to reminisce about memories of their own gardens or childhood gardens," she said.
"Socialising is a very important way of slowing down the progress of illnesses like dementia. "We have partnered with the Bundaberg Regional Council before by touring the art gallery with some of these people and their carers and experienced an incredible response.
"In some cases, people living with dementia who hardly spoke were sparked into conversations by seeing various works of art in the gallery. We are certainly hoping there will be a similar response when they engage in planting seedlings.
"Perhaps the sensations of handling potting mix will evoke some wonderful memories for everyone taking part."
The focus of this year's Dementia Action Week is raising community awareness around discriminating against people living with dementia.
Bundaberg Regional Council parks spokesman Cr Wayne Honor said staff had organised the activity, which would see attendees repotting snap dragons in to new pots which they could then take home.
"We are pleased to be able to support Ozcare in this initiative which we hope will make sure people living with dementia and their carers are engaged with these public spaces," Cr Honor said.
"We have 350 parks, gardens and open spaces in the council area and it is really important for people living with dementia and their carers to feel welcome to use them.
"We hope this event will remind participants of fond memories and will also encourage them to use their fine motor skills.
"In addition to potting their very own snap dragons, participants will decorate their pots and engage their senses through different samples of plants and herbs.
"Council staff will be there to offer assistance and their expert advice throughout the activity."