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Alzheimer’s WA announces Dementia Friendly Communities Roadshow to combat stigma associated with dementia in regional Western Australia

Alzheimer’s WA and the communities throughout the SouthWest and Wheatbelt are working together as part of the Dementia Friendly Communities project to create more dementia-aware and understanding communities by reducing the stigma associated with dementia. The project, supported by the WA Country Health Service,
is the first of its kind in Australia.

In a recent survey of community members in Manjimup more than 50% of respondents believed there was a stigma associated with a diagnosis of dementia. In York, that figure was more than 80% of respondents¹. When asked to provide an example of stigma they had witnessed, the comments revealed a common theme:

  • ‘Friends stop visiting, they don’t know what to say or do around a person with dementia’
  • ‘People with dementia are ignored by others around them’
  • ‘People with dementia are aggressive, and have problems interacting socially’
  • ‘Retail staff are rude and impatient with customers who have dementia’
  • ‘Aged care and retail staff are not trained to deal with dementia’

Stigma often is a result of a lack of understanding or knowledge. Many people are aware of dementia but have little understanding of it. This is in part because historically dementia was often not spoken about.

As part of the Dementia Friendly Communities project, Alzheimer’s WA are visiting Augusta, Brookton, Corrigin, Denmark, Esperance, Hyden, Katanning, Lake Grace, Mount Barker, Northcliffe, Pemberton, Ravensthorpe, Wongan Hills and Wyalkatchem to provide information about dementia, and how to be a dementia friendly community.


There are currently 34,000 people living with dementia in Western Australia. This figure is predicted to increase dramatically to over 84,000 people in less than twenty years and almost 150,000 people by 2056².

Dementia is also the leading cause of death of women in Australia, and the second leading cause of death of all Australians³. There is no cure.

Dementia Friendly Communities 2018 Roadshow

Alzheimer’s WA will be visiting towns in regional Western Australia throughout March and April to talk to local community members about how they can help their town to be a dementia friendly community.

The aim of the roadshow is to provide information and education to help change people’s attitudes. In doing this, Alzheimer’s WA hopes to enhance the wellbeing of people diagnosed with dementia and help them to stay independent and at home for as long as possible, therefore reducing the impact on aged care services and facilities.

Dementia Friendly Communities Roadshow – the details

Details of the roadshow are listed below in alphabetical order. Light refreshments are provided.

Dementia Friendly Towns – Manjimup and York

Alzheimer’s WA is already working with the communities of Manjimup and York as part of the Dementia Friendly Communities project. The two towns are part of a trial, the first of its kind in Australia, where the whole town is working towards becoming dementia friendly.

The types of tangible changes Alzheimer’s WA is working toward includes: creating memory cafes, providing ‘no rush’ lanes in supermarkets, and easy wayfinding through clear signage, defined pathways and colour contrast.

Memory cafes provide a relaxed social environment where people can attend and connect with other people living with dementia. Taking place within a normal cafe setting, the cafe staff participate in dementia awareness training to support a person with dementia visiting the cafe. Examples of existing memory cafes in Western
Australia can be found in the City of Melville4 and the City of Fremantle5.

A ‘no rush’ or ‘relaxed’ lane at the supermarket checkout allows people to take a little more time, without feeling any pressure to rush through the process, and would benefit not only people living with dementia but people with any kind of impairment that might slow them down. A great example of a ‘no rush’ lane in a supermarket is being trialled in Scotland6.

Wayfinding refers to our ability to navigate our way through a space and familiarise ourselves to our surroundings. A well-designed environment can help people living with dementia by providing essential prompts to help them find their way, either within their own home environment or in the community. A poorly designed environment can be confusing, disorienting and at worst, disabling and even dangerous for those with dementia. The Dementia Enabling Environments website7 provides more information.

  1. Alzheimer’s WA Dementia Friendly Communities Towns evaluation pre-survey
  2. NATSEM calculations using Australian Bureau of Statistics population projections
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics
  4. www.gardencity.com.au/what-s-on/garden-city-memory-cafemelvillecity.com.au/news-and-events/community-events/garden-city-memorycafe
  5. alzheimerswa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/CoFMemory_Cafe2018-PRINT-15.1.18.pdf
  6. aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2017/dementiasupermarket-lane.html
  7. enablingenvironments.com.au/

For more information about Alzheimer’s WA and the services available please visit alzheimerswa.org.au or call 1300 66 77 88.

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Media contacts: Moira McKechnie, (08) 6271 1022 / 0433 567 224 / moira.mckechnie@alzheimerswa.org.au

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